Costume film “Corsage”: Empress Sisi gives the finger

Cinema & TV

Writed by - Andy Gocker
  Sisi (Vicky Krieps) in"Corsage"
Sisi (Vicky Krieps) struggles with her age, her figure and last but not least herself © FELIX VRATENY

by Mireilla Zirpins

After the successful RTL+ series another film about Sisi? Yes, one that takes on the empress in her midlife crisis. In 'Corsage' Sisi can be really bitchy and even show the stinky finger. What, really?

Chain smoking and swearing: there is no sign of sweet Sisi here

In the very first scene, leading actress Vicky Krieps (played with Daniel Day Lewis in 'The Silken Thread') shows us what we have to get ourselves into with her Sisi. A maid tightens Empress Elisabeth's wasp waist to a record-breaking 43 centimeters, and the corners of the 'boss''s mouth twitch. 'Get me Lotti,' she snaps. And it's clear that the bodice can probably be tightened even more. After all: Sisi has noted her name. Because she can't tell the difference between 'die Finni' and 'die Hanni'. Her husband, Emperor Franz Joseph, on the other hand, knows exactly which of the two servants has the most meat.

As you can see, director Marie Kreutzer is clearly not taking the direction of the sweet “Sissi” films with Romy Schneider, but rather that of the RTL series. Her Sisi also masturbates, but is significantly older than the one in the series. We celebrate her 40th birthday with her. Or rather, the others are actually celebrating, because the Empress is visibly disgusted not only by the celebration, but also by getting older. 'A woman dissolves at 40,' she describes her discomfort with her own body. And at some point we feel uncomfortable with her, not only when it doesn't work out in bed with FJ, as 'Franzl' is called here, but also when the erotic banter with the riding instructor and her cousin Ludwig II goes in the wrong direction. Sisi seems to be getting more and more out of control, not only towards her children.

Emperor Franz: Techtelmechtel with 18-year-old

  FJ or Emperor Franz Joseph"Corsage"
FJ or Emperor Franz Joseph. © Felix Vratny/Alamode Film

And what does the emperor, who is explicitly not a handsome man, do here? Well, he chatted with 18-year-old Anna Nahowski, only shown with less nudity than in the RTL series. The liaison that makes Sisi livid is even historically attested - quite unlike the numerous sexual desires of Sisi that are shown here, for example with the hairdresser Fanny (for whom a prehistory as a prostitute was invented in the series).

Reading tip: Emperor Franz was not a child of sadness - so he had fun on the side

How it literally falls out of Sisi's face when she finds out about her husband's dalliance, how she oscillates between childlike enthusiasm and depressive indifference, Vicky Krieps plays that really movingly, with demure charm and enormously unpretentious. Her Sisi is always without make-up, with a boyish naturalness, yes, she sometimes seems almost careworn and then again incredibly beautiful. A woman who not only doesn't cope well with aging, but also struggles with her body after four births, who eats incredibly little and does an incredible amount of sports and has not yet come to terms with the fact that her firstborn child died when she was only two years old.

Heroin and tattoos: was that Sisi's world?

It's not light fare, but Marie Kreutzer tries to breathe comedic moments into the whole thing with Sisi's unorthodox behavior. The mix doesn't always work because she wants so much more. She leaves no doubt that Sisi's world in the film certainly doesn't correspond 100% to reality, whether she's injecting heroin or getting her maid a tattooed partner (although Sisi definitely had a tattoo). The intentional anachronisms already contribute to this, such as a modern mop casually leaning in front of a room at court, or the weather-beaten palaces, which were certainly not in this condition 150 years ago. The harpist is also allowed to start “As Tears Go By” (from 1964). The soundtrack is also modern, but not as trendy as, for example, that of 'Marie Antoinette'.

Why this modernization? We see Sisi through her glasses - and through ours today, because the empress has long been something of one of the first pop icons. Everyone has a picture of her in their head, knows her likeness. And that is exactly what Marie Kreutzer plays with in the film. Sisi shouts at the portrait artist that he should simply copy an old picture from the wall. Then he does too. And FJ, sorry: Franz Joseph teases that Sisi has made herself younger.

Yes, there is no ideal world in front of an Alpine panorama here. Anyone who always watches Romy-Schneider at Christmas will not be happy here. For fans of the 'Sisi' series on RTL+, 'Corsage' is great preparation for the second season, which is being filmed and will be broadcast at Christmas .

Reading tip: The big Sisi quiz - test your knowledge!

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