Review: Hysteria (2011)

A movie based on real events, Hysteria tells the story of Dr. Mortimer Granville who invented the very first vibrator.

After getting fired from several workplaces, Dr. Granville gets a job with London’s famous specialist in women’s medicine,  a man who treated his patients for hysteria. Hysteria was thought to be an ailment that most women had, with a plethora of symptoms(erratic and volatile behavior, emotional excesses), that needed to be cured and in extreme cases women with hysteria would be institutionalized.  The job of treating one for hysteria was strenuous and that’s why, with the help of a friend, Granville comes up with the idea of the vibrator.

This is a funny, easy to like, light-hearted romantic comedy that includes some great performances from an equally great cast.  Doctor Granville is british actor Hugh Dancy, in a simple but well written role. Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Charlotte Dalrymple, the daughter of Granville’s employer, an independent woman who can think for herself and has strong convictions of how things should be and what rights women should have. She’s great and delivers her character perfectly in being volatile, strong-headed and generous.

Perhaps my favorite character is that of Granville’s friend and benefactor, Sir Edmund St. John-Smythe(Rupert Everett), the slightly crazy, slighty genial inventor who actually makes the device.

I also have to mention Felicity Jones, who plays the other daughter of Dr. Dalrymple, Emily. I absolutely love her and I’m not just referring to her acting in this movie. If you’ve watched Like Crazy and even the silly little rom-com Chalet Girl, then you’ll know why I’m such a big fan.

For a movie set during the Victorian era, the sets, filming locations, photography and wardrobe are all neat and well-chosen.  Good directing comes from Tanya Wexler, who was relatively unknown to me until I watched this movie.

All in all, Hysteria is a cute, sometimes a bit dragged along, but funny romantic comedy and  you should definitely watch it.

P.S. I mentioned this movie is based on real events, but the story is not exceedingly accurate. Of course, it’s not damaging to the movie in itself, but just in case you were interested, here it goes: the real Doctor Granville did not come up with the idea of the vibrator, as the movie suggests, to be used as a sexual device. Not in any way; rather the electric vibrator was meant to relieve muscle soreness and he had never used it on any female patients for sexual relief. More so, he tried to dissociate himself from the device’s miss-use when it was sold to women directly.

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