Hysteria: Movie Review
Cast: Hugh Dancy, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rupert Everett, Felicity
Jones, Jonathan Pryce
Director: Tanya Wexler
Based on true events, and with a title card that adds the word "Really" after that, Hysteria could be said to be of a familiar theme to the Tony nominated play In the Next Room (or as it's also known, The Vibrator Play).
Set in 1880s Victorian England, Dr Mortimer Granville (Hugh
Dancy) is a young doctor whose revolutionary ideas on germs
treatment and how to treat traditional illnesses sit at odds with
those of his contemporary colleagues (whom he believes are stuck in
the middle ages thanks to their medieval approaches of using
leeches and tablets to cure all ills).
Fired from his latest job, Granville ends up working for Dr Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce) at his swanky upmarket clinic. Dalrymple is not a doctor who deals in exact science, preferring instead to help women over their hysteria by offering them a "manual cure" for their ailment.
The trouble is that Granville's so good at this massage, the clinic begins to be swamped by demand - and Granville's forced to deal with cramps as well as the potential end of his career.
Throw into that mix, Dalrymple's offering of his demure porcelain daughter, Emily (Felicity Jones) and the business if he manages to do well.
Soon, Granville's facing all manner of frustrations of his own....perhaps, his benefactor Edward St. John-Smythe (Rupert Everett) who dabbles in electronics may hold the solution...
Hysteria is a light-hearted, knockabout kind of comedy, which is unlikely to offend the prudish despite the subject matter.
A lot of the humour from this charming piece comes at the expense of British prudishness and through its script rather than its actors, a cheeky wink to the audience rather than outright smut and innuendo. In fact, the film doesn't take itself too seriously at all - and neither as the audience should you.
Everett and Dancy are a fun pair; with Dancy getting the lion's share of the best moments, suffering from RSI after offering "assistance" to the hysterical ladies and just wanting to do the best for them. There's perhaps a slight niggle that Maggie Gyllenhaal's character Charlotte, an initially crusading woman who simply wants to improve things for all and bring equality, has to rely on Granville to save her at the end (thus negating her independence) but Hysteria is more the kind of film which doesn't demand too much deep analysis.