CORSAGE – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

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Lushly decorated and costumed, while cheekily anachronistic with its use of 21st century pop songs, salty language, rude gestures and the like, Corsage takes a look at the later life of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, aka “Sissi” (1837-1898), played by a suitably regal and linguistically talented Vicky Krieps (Bergman Island, Phantom Thread), who speaks at least three languages here including Hungarian, and also takes an executive producer credit. In fact, Krieps reportedly first proposed the project to Austrian writer-director Marie Kreutzer.

Some might compare Empress Sissi to Diana the Princess of Wales, who also had an eating disorder and had to share her husband — the Emperor Franz Joseph (played handsomely by Florian Teichtmeister — with another woman. Sissi also uses rings that dangle from her ceiling as a form of exercise and she squeezes into a corset that binds her so tightly that she can barely breathe.

But this witty period drama finds the Empress instructing her staff to lace her bodice – or “corsage,” as it is called – ever tighter. She enjoys flirtations with other men as she travels to England and Bavaria. While visiting hospitals in her finery, she shares perfumed sweets with the patients. She watches a woman who is chained up and screaming, and is presumed to be mad.

Perhaps Empress Elisabeth might have been in that position as well if she hadn’t had the opportunities offered by her noble birth. Krieps keeps her chin up for the most part but she is bound by invisible chains and wishes she could leave them behind.

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Susan Wloszczyna

In her nearly 30 years at USA Today, Susan Wloszczyna interviewed everyone from Vincent Price and Shirley Temple to Julia Roberts and Will Smith. Her coverage specialties include animation, musicals, comedies and any film starring Hayley Mills, Sandy Dennis or hobbits. Her crowning career achievements so far, besides having Terence Stamp place his bare feet in her lap during an interview for The Limey, is convincing the paper to send her to New Zealand twice for set visits, once for The Return of the King and the other for The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong, and getting to be a zombie extra and interview George Romero in makeup on the set for Land of the Dead. Though not impressive enough for Pulitzer consideration, she also can be blamed for coining the moniker "Frat Pack," often used to describe the comedy clique that includes Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell. Her positions have included Life section copy desk chief for four years and a film reviewer for 12 years. She is currently a contributor for the online awards site Gold Derby and is an Oscar expert for RogerEbert.com. Previously, she has been a freelance film reporter and critic, contributing regularly to RogerEbert.com, MPAA’s The Credits, the Washington Post, AARP The Magazine online and Indiewire as well as being a book reviewer for The Buffalo News. She previously worked as a feature editor at the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, N.Y. A Buffalo native, she earned her bachelor's degree in English at Canisius College and a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.