Hysteria: "Must Be Difficult Pleasuring Half The Women In The City"

Director: Tanya Wexler
Writer:    Jonah Lisa Dyer
               Stephen Dyer
Starring: Hugh Dancy
               Maggie Gyllenhaal
               Jonathan Pryce
               Felicity Jones
               Rupert Everett
               Ashley Jensen
               Sheridan Smith
Rating:    ****

Release Date: 21/09/12

A movie based on real events, Hysteria is one of those films that was announced a while ago, but due to funding/studios/other such issues, it has taken a while to see the light of day. Now it has been released I can quite honestly say that I am so pleased it finally made it out for public viewing. Hysteria tells the story of Dr. Mortimer Granville who invented the very first vibrator, and the story is filled with comedy, heart, and actually a rather poignant message about women's rights.

(L-R) Maggie Gyllenhaal & Hugh Dancy
After getting fired from several workplaces, Dr. Granville (Dancy) gets a job with London’s famous specialist in women’s medicine, Dr. Dalrymple (Pryce),  a man who treated his patients for hysteria. Hysteria was thought to be a mental illness that most women had, with a wide range of of symptoms (erratic and volatile behaviour, emotional excesses), that needed to be cured and in extreme cases women with hysteria would be institutionalised. The job of treating women for hysteria was strenuous (and could cause finger cramp) and that’s why, with the help of a friend (Everett), Granville comes up with the idea of the vibrator.

The result is a funny, easy to like, and light-hearted romantic comedy that includes some fantastic performances from an equally great cast. Doctor Granville is a simple but well written role, and Dancy does a marvellous job of bringing him to life. 

Rupert Everett
Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Charlotte Dalrymple, the daughter of Granville’s employer, an independent woman who can think for herself and has strong ideas of how things should be and what rights women should have. She’s great and delivers her character perfectly in being hard-nosed, strong-headed and generous. And of course there is Granvilles friend, the camp and fabulous Sir Edmund St. John-Smythe played by Rupert Everett, who is slightly crazy but means well in what he does.

Perhaps though, my favourite character is that of ex-prostitute and the Daltymple's current house maid, Molly the Lolly (Smith), she is you typical tart with a heart who you love instantly. Smith really gets her chance to show off her comedic chops, with a 2 minute orgasm scene being one of the many highlights of her performance.

For a period film set in the Victorian era; the sets, filming locations, photography and wardrobe all fit nicely and have been well-chosen. The directing from Tanya Wexler is also spot on, and for somebody who is relatively unknown before this, she has done a terrific job on this film.

Sheridan Smith
Of course with a film that is set back in Victorian times and is based on real events, the story may not that accurate. Luckily though, it’s not damaging to the movie in itself, and you never become distracted by plot holes are serious historical bloopers. The main thing that is wrong with the factual content, is that Dr Granville never used the vibrator to please women sexually, rather it was used to relax muscles and help them with aches and pains. The "vibrator" was never used in a sexual way; so I guess it's a big error/retelling, but it really doesn't matter, because the results are more than entertaining.

Overall, Hysteria is a superb, although sometimes a bit dragged out, romantic comedy, that is filled with plenty of innuendos, double entendres and smut to make anyone blush.

Hysteria - Trailer