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Film review

Corsage: The suffocating life of Sisi

★ ★ ★ Vicky Krieps shines as the relentlessly scrutinised 19th-century Austrian royal.

Photo: Ricardo Vaz Palma / Alamode Film

Marie Kreutzer’s latest film explores the life of Habsburg Empress Elisabeth of Austria around the time of her 40th birthday in 1877. Elizabeth, known as Sisi, saunters across royal estates, suffocates inside corsets and breathes in the hardships of family trauma, self-destruction and lavish dinner parties.

Vicky Krieps finely balances the complexities at play between the objectification of her position within the monarchy and the subjectivity of her inner nature as separate from her societal position.

Fans of Krieps’ earlier roles in period pieces Phantom Thread (2017) and The Last Vermeer (2019) will not be disappointed: Krieps is at the top of her game, and this film only validates further the excitement of getting to watch this actress blossom as one of the finest on the world art-house stage.

The relentlessly-observed-but-achingly-lonely-princess dichotomy soundtracked by contemporary tunes harks back to Sofia Coppola’s genius reimagining of Marie Antoinette (2006) – albeit lacking the character and singular vision of Coppola’s misunderstood masterpiece. ★ ★ ★