Hysteria_posterHands up who wants to see a period film set in the late 19th century about an enterprising young doctor with dreams of overhauling standard medical procedure but winds up in a practice where they specialise in “handling” the neglected wives of the upper class? Sound like your kind of film? No? I didn’t think so either but there you go.

This story is about the invention of the vibrator with a romantic comedy element woven through it. Could you really tell this story any other way? Probably, yes. But it would be depressing. The fact is, in Victorian England modern science, medicine and psychology was still very primitive and the term for frustrated women was Hysteria and apparently it was necessary for a doctor (who had to be male in those days) to relieve such frustrations.

The story follows Dr Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy), who at the start of the film quickly finds himself dismissed from the medical profession for questioning standard procedure which was held as gospel by his superiors. So, needing somewhere else to practice he crosses the path of Dr Robert Dalryimple (Jonathan Pryce) and finds himself assisting him in a new treatment for Hysteria. Being young and not too bad on the eye, Granville becomes a hit with the clientele but the high demand for his magic touch gives him Carpal Tunnel Syndrome which ends up affecting his performance and is eventually given the flick by Dalrymple.

Meanwhile, Granville’s inventor friend Edmund St John-Smythe (Rupert Everett) who specialises in electrics sparks inspiration through a failed electric duster design to build the world’s first vibrator.hysteria-movie-image-01Maggie Gyllenhaal is her lovable self in this one (albeit with a bad English accent) playing the wilful daughter of Dr Dalrymple as well as the love interest for Granville.

It’s a fine, light-hearted romp with many pleasing scenes, laugh-out-loud moments and if you didn’t know the origins of this device beloved by women the world over, you will after you watch this.

See this with your Mum.

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