Sat March 4 — 1:30 pm

1 hr 52 min
Not rated/18+
Historical Drama

Royalty and the pedestal-prison of womanhood is the theme of this new film from Austrian director Marie Kreutzer, imagining the home life of the Hapsburg Empress Elizabeth of Austria in 1877, the year of her 40th birthday. Like Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette and Pablo Larraín’s Princess Diana, the kaiserin lives in a luxurious delirium of loneliness: notionally cherished, actually patronised.

Vicky Krieps gives a superb performance as Empress Elisabeth of Austria in Marie Kreutzer’s splendid biopic. Blending historical fact and whimsical creative license, Kreutzer takes us back to the late 19th century: the Empress, pushing 40, is a most discontented woman. Obsessed with her appearance, Elisabeth takes her corset as a measurement of beauty, and is determined that it must be laced tighter and tighter. She’s been politically sidelined against her will, and is growing restless and rebellious.

With sly inventiveness, wry humour, and a strong feel for visual splendour, Kreutzer guides us through Elisabeth’s world. It’s one of great opulence, but also stifling confinement; the writer-director portrays the luxury and the oppression as two sides of the same coin. As the Empress moves to protect her legacy and recapture the passion of her youth, the film deepens in power. The final act is a bold departure from the historical record, with Kreutzer asserting her feminist prerogative and giving her film a subversive conclusion.

Best Performance Prize (Vicky Krieps), Cannes 2022 (Un Certain Regard)

Director:
Marie Kreutzer

Cast
Vicky Krieps, Florian Teichtmeister, Katharina Lorenz, Jeanne Werner, Alma Hasun, Manuel Rubey, Finnegan Oldfield, Aaron Friesz, Rosa Hajjaj

Country of Origin:
Austria/France/Germany

Year:
2022

Language:
English

Preceded by:

Sleeping Betty

NFB, 2007, 9min, Canada

Director: Claude Cloutier

In this animated short, Sleeping Betty is stuck in bed, victim to a strange bout of narcolepsy.

The King calls on his subjects to rescue her and they all respond to the call: Uncle Henry VIII, Aunt Victoria, an oddly emotional alien, a funky witch and a handsome prince. But will a kiss really be enough to wake the sleeping princess?