27 January 2023.
One expects excellence when Cate Blanchett is in a film, and this one certainly does not disappoint. She has already garnered quite a few awards for it and will most probably end up with another Oscar. In her career she has accumulated 2 Oscars, 3 BAFTAS and 4 Golden Globes. Some of her best performances have been in “Elizabeth” (1998 and 2007), “Blue Jasmine” (2013) and “Don’t Look Up” (2021), but the list can go on and on.
In this work, directed by Todd Field (who specialises in psychological dramas), she portrays Lydia Tar, a (fictional) world-renowned conductor and composer working in Berlin. The first third of the film is not for audiences out for light entertainment, for it’s an intellectual look at the world of classical music with numerous theme references that will delight avid mélomanes, but will leave others in perplexed boredom.
But once we become more acquainted with this elegant, haughty character and her personal life as a parent to a troubled little girl from her union with the first violinist in her orchestra (played by German actress Nina Hoss), the story turns to more basic human issues. A controlling perfectionist and highly ambitious, Tar has a troubling sensitivity to sound. And then there are the hidden resentments and jealousies in her entourage which begin to erode her life and exceptional career. This is a film concerned not only with music, but also with the frailty of fame, the pitfalls of social media and how it can so unjustly destroy lives.
Director Field has arranged his film like a symphony – with a slow prologue, movements from andante to presto and a shattering finale. The tone and look of the film are as austere and grey as Tar’s forceful character and her refined outfits. Blanchett, both as actress and executive producer of the film, delved deeply into the art and form of conducting and learned basic German to morph into this complex woman. It’s simply brilliant.
CORSAGE **1/2 (vo German)
Does anyone remember the hugely popular 1950s “Sissi” films with the young, very lovely Romy Schneider? Has anyone seen them on TV? They were a series of three romantic films about the early life of Empress Elizabeth of Austria who reigned in the second half of the 19th century. She became Empress when at 16 she married her cousin Franz Joseph, Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary. Those colourful Austrian films showed them very much in love, which was not necessarily the true story, for the Empress apparently felt very constricted in her life at court.
This latest work about the same Empress takes a much darker view of her life and character.
She is portrayed by Vicky Krieps (“Phantom Thread”) as a spoiled, rebellious queen who finds any excuse to get away from her duties at court. The title of the film refers to her corsage or corset, which like her existence at court, binds her so tightly that she sometimes faints from its pressure.
Written and directed by the Austrian Marie Kreutzer, this is quite a feminist view of a queen who takes her life into her own hands. She insists upon her strange rituals, her frequent travels, and her relationships with other men, including the horseman in one of her palaces in England, or her cousin King Ludwig of Bavaria, who loves her as a companion but prefers men in his bed. Many of these references are left up in the air, with too few explanations for those who may not be familiar with the history. And who is to say which part is true, and which is cinematic license, as in films like “Spencer” (about Diana) and the many which have tried to define Marie Antoinette. These works create their own, often distorted, views on royals and that makes the whole endeavour frustrating.
This one is an austere view of those who are self-centered and often blinded by their position of rank and power. Nothing like the sweet Sissi version from the naive 1950s. Corsage has had top critiques, is going to the Oscars for Austria, but left a bitter taste in my mouth. Again, to each his own….
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CHARLOTTE RAMPLING in Geneva!
An exceptional evening of poetry and music
CHARLOTTE RAMPLING recites Shakespeare to the music of Bach and Monteverdi at the BFM ! February 2nd at 20h. Put it already in your agendas!
The great English actress Charlotte Rampling with her deep, distinctive voice has had a long and illustrious career. Now, in the autumn of her years, she will be presenting the sonnets of her immemorial compatriot Shakespeare set to the music of Bach and Monteverdi played by the cellist Sonia Wieder-Atherton, a prominent student of Mstislav Rostropovich. Make sure you do not miss this unique presentation combining the arts of literature, music and cinema.
This both modern and baroque creation was originally presented last March at the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris.
(In English with subtitles.)
Our Le News readers will receive a 10% discount on tickets if they mention code: NS10 online at Charlotte Rampling.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.