- Director:Tanya Wexler
- Cast:Hugh Dancy, Rupert Everett, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jonathan Pryce
- Release Date:July 12, 2012
- Running time:100 minutes
- Film Worth:$14.00
- FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
Perfectly watchable entertainment that delivers more in wit and charm than in big laughs.
Given that Hysteria is about the invention of the vibrator, you could say that it gives new meaning to the expression "feel good comedy." Based on a true story and set in Victorian London of 1880, director Tanya Wexler's comedy-drama follows Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy), a young doctor whose career is foundering due to his principled stand against archaic and unsafe medical practices. His prospects begin to look up when he starts working for Dr. Robert Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce). Dalrymple specialises in curing "hysteria" - a catch-all phrase at the time for all manner of female discontents - via manual relief: digital vaginal massages, in other words. This is done in the interest of alleviating nervous energy, rather than being sleazy, and it supposedly gives no pleasure to the women concerned. But of course, the queues around the block for Dr. Granville's services suggest otherwise.
Granville shares a flat with a rich, gay and droll upper-class lush called Lord Edmund St. John-Smythe, and Rupert Everett rather steals the show in this small role, despite having very little to do besides lying on a couch and playing with a mechanical feather duster. When Granville develops hand cramps, however, his friend's inventiveness proves helpful...
The surprising element in Hysteria is that it's as much a serious love story as any kind of extended joke. Dalrymple has two daughters, young Emily (Felicity Jones) - with whom Granville becomes temporarily engaged - and the older Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal). She is an outspoken feminist who runs a women's refuge in the East End; she's combative when a crisis calls for it, and vivaciously witty the rest of the time. Hysteria is watchable and mildly entertaining, with a modicum of nostalgic charm. It's not uproarious, but neither is it ever boring.