Reviewed by David Savage
Starring: Hugh Dancy, Maggie Gynnenhaal, Jonathan Pryce, Felicity Jones, Rupert Everett
Director: Tanya Wexler
Running Time: 95 minutes
Hysteria is a light-hearted romantic comedy about a doctor who accidentally invents a woman’s sexual aid, in prudish Victorian society, in the name of medicine. Based on a true story… really.
Set in Victorian London in the 1880’s Dr Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) has again been fired from another job as he wants to practice modern medicine and his convictions keep getting him into trouble.
While unsuccessfully searching for a new position he is offered a job in an exclusive private practice by Dr Robert Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce) treating women diagnosed as suffering from Hysteria. In the Victorian age Hysteria was diagnosed for nearly every woman’s ailment. Dr Dalrymple believed that with pelvic massage the symptoms could be relieved.
Dr Granville becomes Dalrymple’s assistant and brings in lots of new business. Things are going well and he gets engaged to Dalrymple’s daughter Emily (Felicity Jones). Things go well for a while until Granville starts to suffer from hand cramps and again gets fired.
While sitting with his friend Lord Edmund St John-Smythe (Rupert Everett) who has been trying to invent an electric duster they change the design and invent the world’s first vibrator.
Dr Dalrymple’s other daughter Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal), who runs a poorhouse against her father’s wishes, gets arrested and Granville has to testify in court defends her instead and starts to fall in love with her.
Overall, Hysteria is a great comedy set in a prudish Victorian England setting. While at first glance I thought it going to be a boring period drama I was gladly mistaken. The cast is superb and the characters are great including Molly the Lolly.
I would highly recommend watching it and don’t think because it is a story about a vibrator that it is going to dirty or have graphic scenes because it doesn’t have any and is very put together, remember this a prudish Victorian society.
Available to buy from Amazon here.