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MOVIES (LFF 2022): Corsage - Review

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Film festival walkouts didn’t take long to start and we had two this time, but Marie Kreutzer’s Corsage doesn’t quite earn that reputation. It’s a great film that I instantly adored – devilishly funny, focusing on Empress Elisabeth, the Lady Macbeth of Austria – idolised for her fashion trends and inspiration. Elisabeth is smart, witty and daring with incredible foresight – she picks up on the early invention of film whilst celebrating her 40th Birthday – but is becoming more and more isolated in Vienna. Her husband is openly courting a younger woman; barely turned 18 – and her two children are becoming dry, like him - in her view, rebellion is key - yet never has she felt more alone.

It's an incredibly assured performance by Vicky Krieps with a give-no-fucks energy to the character that makes her instantly iconic – she walks out of a meeting sticking her middle finger back at her husband; and is told to take Heroin as a health cure; openly smoking with wounded soldiers. This is the kind of rebelliousness that Corsage gives us – not as anachronistic as the film suggests it is – but it plays with history with wanton abandon all the same – swordplay is taught wearing modern armour with a room that has an exit symbol over a door, pop ballads cover music played by bards, and the characters board a boat that is essentially a modern ferry down to the letter. Corsage feels deliberately jarring, a clash of cultures both old and new – and this intentional anachronism works in its favour.

Whilst not quite as free-spirited or rebellious as say The Great, still trapped in its convention as a period drama, Corsage will appeal to fans of Phantom Thread and The Favourite with its dry wit and humour. It’s a clever beast – there’s touches of Dickinson her too – the film feels like one of the most inspired historical reinventions that we’ve had in a while – but yet it is formulaic still – not completely able to break free of its conventions. The anachronistic soundtrack helps install a sense of awe and the film dares not to feel stuffy or uptight – instead, a revolution in motion – a quiet one – but a beautiful act all the same. Just a reminder of how incredible Vicky Krieps is – and how mesmerising it really is as a picture.

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