Unrated. German, French, Italian, Hungarian, with subtitles. AMC Boston Common, Landmark Kendall Square, Coolidge Corner Theater.
An Austrian-Luxembourg-German-French co-production and featuring a performance by the Cannes Prize-winning Luxembourg actor Vicky Kriebs (“Phantom Thread”), “Corsage” tells the whimsical and fictional story of Empress Elisabeth of Austria. Think of it as a sort of 19th-century version of her in ‘The Crown’, complete with the monarch being the subject of gossip in the ‘tabloids’. Also, Elisabeth, Queen of Hungary, was a non-conformist and allowed mutton chops by her loving but very conservative husband, Emperor Franz Josef (Florian Teichtmeister). desire to play a greater part in her rule than to be. Perhaps this explains why she and her entourage tour Vienna’s overcrowded “psychiatric hospitals”. Elizabeth pretends to faint to get out of her public sight. Her dogs are almost as well-groomed as hers.
The Empress is an accomplished horseman and is obsessed with her looks. She practices “lacing it tight” on her corset to achieve the “Wasp waist” look (in fact, she fires servants who can’t tighten her corset enough). He diets, exercises frequently, and doesn’t care much about his school-age daughter Valerie (Rosa Hudjayi) or her adult son Rudolf (Aaron Fries), the Crown Prince of Austria. However, in one scene, she sadly recalls her late second daughter in her childhood. Elizabeth spends most of her day surrounded by her unrecognizable handmaidens. Indeed, this movie is chockablock with royalty and aristocrats whose names we don’t know.
Even Elizabeth cannot distinguish between her maidservants. Perhaps more important than the two Queens of Sicily Marie (Lily Her Marie Her Zotner) is her fellow jockey and rumored lover Britt Her Bay Her Middleton (Colin Morgan). Written and directed by Austrian Marie Kreutzer (“The Ground Beneath My Feet”), the film features anachronisms performed by musicians from the film’s era (e.g., The Rolling Stones’ “As Tears Go By”). It features musical interludes that suggest: Elizabeth is certainly a figure of her time and future.
While we wander through castles and manor houses (locations are mentioned in the captions), Creeps, who also served as executive producer, is the anguished, funny, rebellious, and intelligent tale that keeps the entire enterprise spinning. Elisabeth cuts off her very long hair that she had to keep braided for hours each day. In a shot straight out of her horror movie, chopped hair appears to grow on a chair. Elizabeth even gets along with her cranky husband. She is unhappy about turning 40. However, she uses that as an excuse, claiming she is “too old” to have any more children. Most of the women in psychiatric hospitals are diagnosed with “depression”. One was guilty of “adultery.” Some are confined to cage-like beds. The air is rich in metaphors. This is nothing like you’ve seen in the Romy Schneider/Empress Elisabeth “Sissi” movies. Elisabeth’s crotch, a male doctor prescribes her “new drug” heroin to relieve the Empress’s moodiness and her chronic insomnia, and she soon becomes a junkie. While the real Elisabeth hated being photographed, the Creep’s Elisabeth agreed to be photographed by an Englishman who claimed to have invented the motion picture camera, resulting in a comical, silent-film-era film. There are also comedian pioneers. The ending, which reminds me of Garbo in “Queen Christina,” is also a sly ending to “Titanic.” Creeps turn the “corsage” into a stunning star turn.
(“Corsage” contains sexual content, drug use, and other adult themes)