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A Solid Period Setting for a Romantic Comedy
kath_henderson5 April 2012
I was quite surprised at how much I sincerely enjoyed this film. Thinking I was wandering into quite a serious film about the female condition in Victorian Times I quickly realised it was a sharp witted rom-com about the characters inventing new ideas in Victorian Times.

I really enjoyed the interplay of the characters, who were all played very well by the actors who seemed to be having a lot of fun. The period setting was very realistic and beautifully realised. The story, although slight, had enough meaning behind it to make the experience a satisfying one and thoroughly enjoyable.

There were a few quibbles with the realistic attitudes of the Victorian Era, but the sense of innocence about the matter made it all very charming. The fact that the doctors administering their treatments to the women insisted that it was all very medical and there were no gratification from the act was endearing. Even with the smiles of sheer delight the women displayed upon the completion, no, it was all very professional.

I believe that's the attitude that encapsulates the film. Near the end the story veers into women's rights and tries very hard to ensure that people are left feeling the indignation those women who fought for our rights felt. But at the end of the day that wasn't what this film will be remembered for. It's all about the sheer pleasure of watching actors enjoying themselves, a fun storyline built for laughs in a well realised environment rarely used for such. It was fun, light and left you smiling. I highly recommend it.
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Absolutely delightful film.
mtrubic20 September 2011
My absolute favourite film from this year's Tiff. I was laughing like a crazy person but I was completely drowned out by the howling and squealing of all the women in the audience. Special attention was given to historical details and they all were masterfully done. The quality of the cast is something I haven't seen in quite a while, the roles were so much fun that many of the actors would have wanted to do this for nothing or at least for scale. It was true genius that such material was discussed and portrayed in such a manner as to be purely enjoyable without risking even the slightest offence. Be sure to stay for the very end and watch the antique devices as they appear on the left side and then the right side of the credits. The entire audience was still fixated on the screen as if in a champion tennis match until the lights came up and we applauded some more.

Absolutely delightful film.

Keep it up.
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A great English comedy
TheDoomSong14 February 2012
I watched "Hysteria as a sneak preview and, having no idea what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised. Both Dancy and Gyllenhaal refrain from playing their, somewhat stereotypical, roles over the top and the script is intelligent enough to build a strong relationship plot around the already interesting subject of the invention of the dildo. The subject is also interpreted in an entertaining way and not simply used as a gimmick, which happens quite a bit in these period pieces that feature a certain historical event. The comedic pacing is refreshing, tasteful and does not feel cheap which is impressive if you consider that some of the biggest laughs stem from scenes that depict the masturbation of middle aged women. All in all "Hysteria" is a fun movie, with good actors, a good story and, if that's important for you, a great happy end.
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Lubricated and Hysterical
digdog-785-7175386 April 2012
Happy, happy happy;

After a good dose of Hysteria, i am as happy and exhausted as the women depicted in this gem of a film.

Hysteria is the not-exceedingly-accurate story of the man who invented (of all things) the vibrator, in the midst of Victorian England and the laughable ideals of the time. As a light hearted comedy, it succeeds above and beyond the call of duty. As historical document, it lets itself slip into more comfortable Hollywood territory, but not in any reproachable way - it's a delightful character romp, getting heaps of help from the astounding weirdness of the Victorians themselves, if only in stereotype.

Jonathan Pryce (The Master, anyone?) is brilliant, overshadowing lead Hugh Dancy who is slightly uncomfortable in his too-simplistic role. The sets are splendid, and so is all of the production - good direction, excellent photography and pretty decent score round out the package to let the film rise to a pretty decent standard.

All considered, i would recommend this film to anyone looking for a laugh and an easy evening. There are the occasional "drags on" moments (after all, it's hard to find enough masturbation-related jokes to fill 90 minutes), and the serious sections aren't all that great; after the first hilarious 20 minutes, it's kind of difficult to swallow the romance bits, and you can almost find yourself yearning for a descent into total silliness (where unfortunately Hysteria does not deliver). I feel that a stronger hand (pardon the pun) in the script might have made more of this film. But, as it stands, there is still very little to complain about.

A film recommended to all the family - at least, that is Hysteria's thinly-veiled message: sex is good, and thank god for that.

My final vote - 7/10, funny (if slightly inconclusive), and better than A LOT of stuff out there. (add 1 point if you have never seen Woody Allen's "all you wanted to know about sex but were afraid to ask")
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Nice and easy
kosmasp11 May 2012
While I guess some might be offended by the way some things are depicted here, the movie itself plays it safe when it comes to the story. It is pretty predictable and you will know where this is heading not long after the movie has started. But the movie itself has so much heart (especially Maggie G.), that you are more than willing (no pun intended) to look over those flaws.

The jokes work, the characters are finely drawn and the movie itself is really nice. Again do not expect anything deep and you won't be disappointed. I haven't checked my history books either to look if the characters were based on anyone particular (it does leave you with that impression)
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Jolly good!
mike-ryan4555 April 2012
Hysteria is a very British and Victorian story that is very funny and relevant today. It's also a light sex romp that never shows anything or anybody with anyone. How much better than that?

The production values are quite lovely. It isn't a cast of thousands but it doesn't need to be. The principal players do their roles quite well, and even if you're just some American who has never heard of any of them before you can well enjoy it.

Whether the story is really entirely true or not as it claims or is just a tale of manners, sex and modern sensibilities I don't know. But it is attractive, light and jolly good fun. Ah yes, may there always be an England. With movies and sex toys like this the sun will never set on the British Empire.
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Hysterically funny
monogatari8230 October 2011
I saw this film this night at the Leiden Film Festival where it was the final film. I think what makes it funny is that it is a subject we can all relate to (* even the men) although it something one rarely discusses in public. The majority of the crowd were all women, but there were some men as well. The organizers also held a lottery, handing out numbers---the prizes where vibrators generally donated by a sexshop. Surprisingly, a lot of men won a vibrators, perhaps they need it even more;)....(you probably get it if you see the film).

I also really enjoyed the beautiful set and costumes, it made it very convincing and the acting was great. You can see all the actors had as much fun acting in this movie, as we had watching it.

I want to own this film on DVD:)
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A Nutshell Review: Hysteria
DICK STEEL1 August 2012
It's always amazing to learn how medical science has developed over the many decades with new discoveries, treatments and cures, and back in the late 19th Century, female hysteria was thought to be treatable in what is known as the pelvic massage. Which yes, in other words, masturbation, where in what this film had depicted, having a doctor perform the act on your behalf, with nothing sexual, but purely as a means of therapy which was hard on the fingers, and satisfaction measured by the achieving of an orgasm.

Written by Stephen and Jonah Lisa Dyer from an original story by Howard Gensler, Hysteria would like you to believe it's based on a true story, loosely of course, about how the vibrator actually came to fruition. In fact, it paints a more hilarious look at what came before that contraption actually became reality, and lo and behold, little do we know the humble beginnings of a technological marvel, like all things, stem from a problem with the manual method. Too much of a good thing, led to hand cramps in this case. What more when Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy), a handsome doctor with a penchant to help to sick, becomes a popular go-to healer to help hysterical women keep their condition under control. An ability he is sought for, until his hand becomes sore.

With the, erm, pleasures obtained outside of the home and as part of medical treatment, Mortimer's practice under the private clinic of Dr Robert Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce) enabled both men to push forth the boundaries for treating hysteria. What more, Robert Dalrymple is also on the lookout for a possible successor to his esteemed, elite and lucrative clinic, and has daughter Emily (Felicity Jones) as carrot should he find an heir apparent to whom he can also give away Emily's hand in marriage to. And rounding up the Dalrymples is Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal), Emily's sister who's the exact opposite in character.

Hysteria packed a lot into its narrative, from issues like the class divide, as well as a romance that has Mortimer being drawn to the two sisters for different reasons - one to up his social standing and is a natural progression to further his career ambitions, while the outspokenness of the other, in being able to hold an intelligent conversation, balanced with a heart of gold in wanting to help the less fortunate, and is not afraid to stand firm on her convictions. What more, a proposition to allow Mortimer to put his skills into real, practical use, may be too good to be true, and you can see the appeal here, in breaking with conventional norms and stepping out to do what you truly believe in.

So outside of what makes this film sexy, and comedic at the same time, is a strong underlying theme about the social condition of the era, with woman's rights being non existent, and on the cusp of a revolution with forward thinkers gaining their ground a step at a time, probably in some ways mirroring the liberation in sexuality as well, with the advent of a device that can be procured and used in private, compared to having visit the doctor's, which I have to admit provided plenty of laughs even though they are fairly tame in treatment.

The story may play out in expectant terms, but the ensemble cast is the appeal as well. Hugh Darcy may not be a big name in this part of the world, but surely his turn as the doctor here will win him some admirers. Maggie Gyllenhaal didn't have a role that can accentuate her already sterling filmography, but with her character becomes the live-wire of the movie, catalyzing plenty of ideas that we already are familiar with, but are quite abhorred in that era. Jonathan Pryce plays the overbearing patriarch with aplomb, while Rupert Everett has a small role as the eccentric tycoon Edmund St. John-Smuthe who has engineering responsibilities and credited with the creation of a device that had a different use, only for Mortimer Granville to chance upon an opportunity when used in a separate way.

Labelled as one of the best selling adult toys, the vibrator has come a long way from the images and stills of those designed in the early stage, so stay tuned during the end credits for that educational session of how designs evolved from humble beginnings, together with some of the kinkiest descriptions to market the product. Definitely highly recommended, and may just creep into my shortlist as one of the best this year!
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hysterically holly molly jolly!!!!!!!
rightwingisevil7 April 2012
this film is absolutely a gem of comedy, so enjoyable and right on the money. i never knew the origin of the portable massager, now i know, and that's a plus after fully enjoyed this wonderful British film. great screenplay, great directing and of course, with nice casting job, making this comedy an undisputable winner. this is a model comedy that Hollywood should learn how to make comedies being able to be titled in the genre of real comedies instead of turning out just farces. to me, about 98% of the so-called 'comedies' are actually nothing but. comedy does not mean casting some jerk-like clowns with exaggerated facial expressions or pretentious unnatural way of talking, some moronic gestures with lot of abnormally crazy dialog, ridiculous scenario, impossible twists of plots....so and so, then you call it a 'comedy'. absolutely not.

this film is the real deal that we can officially title it as a comedy and, a great one,
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a hysterical appeasement!!
bonzybino6 April 2012
A simple engaging movie which employed me throughout, courtesy some vivacious performances, some light-hearted moments and most importantly the story of a popular invention, oh! and i don't give a darn about the historical accuracy, just bought the preface that the movie was based on true events. Really. :-D Is this movie a class apart? Definitely not, coz the loosely stringed screenplay loses its sheen many a time.

The plot progresses erratically, which however is saved by some comic elements - unintentional though - and some defined acting from the lead pair Hugh Dancy & Maggie Gyllenhaal. Hugh Dancy resembled Hugh Jackman on many occasions; he never came close even in "King Arthur". Maggie Gyllenhaal steals the show as the erratic, volatile, generous & compassionate woman of the 19th century. Nothing worth a debate stands out in this period piece - the depiction, the sets, the attire, the diction all very neat except for the proposal scene towards the end which resembled a modern day Romcom ending! :-P

To sum it up, I enjoyed the movie, albeit i wish had it been stringent and stuffed with some substance, a plot which tries to tell the once-common medical diagnosis of female hysteria definitely deserved better treatment and appreciation, that said, it's an appeasing watch in the end. 6.5/10
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limp and unconvincing
selffamily10 March 2013
I had heard great things of this movie, so I was delighted to see it at my local video store, having missed it on release, and grabbed it. I was disappointed. I found Dr Granville Mortimer to be ineffectual and unconvincing, while the sister he wasn't engaged to was over the top and too ardent about her passionate fight for social(with incidentally the cleanest, smartest place in the slums ever seen), and real issues. I felt that the whole film was a token effort - the queues of middle aged ladies, the tidy slums, and the enormous leap between social classes, so easily made. I was disappointed to see the esteemed Jonathon Pryce in his role, I felt he could do better somehow. For me the film fell between two stools, neither really funny (just the odd chuckle) nor a solid statement about the state of women's life as it was. And so predictable with the sisters.
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When the Uterus Was to Blame
Chris_Pandolfi18 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
"Hysteria" is an exuberantly charming romantic comedy, yes, but it's also a surprisingly compelling depiction of a world in transition, when tradition was being challenged by progressive behaviors and technologies. The time is the 1880s. The place is Victorian England. Electrical devices were barely starting to make their way into the lives of everyday people. In the field of medicine, germs were still widely regarded as theoretical, and in London alone, nearly a quarter of the female population was diagnosed with hysteria, a catchall diagnosis conjured up by male scientists describing a vast and arbitrary list of mental disorders. If a woman was unhappy, restless, disobedient, hostile, aggressive, too interested or not interested enough in sex, unable to sleep, or impertinent enough to desire an education, fair pay, and the right to decide for themselves the course of their lives, their uteruses were often to blame.

Apart from the occasional court-mandated hysterectomy, the treatment history of hysterical symptoms can basically be boiled down to various methods of masturbation. Techniques such as pelvic massage, digital manipulation, horseback riding, and even hydrotherapy were all applied to a woman's nether regions, as it was believed that they could provide a release for a hysterical patient's nervous system and put her reproductive organs back in working order. By the nineteenth century, it was common medical practice to provide vaginal massages to the point of "paroxysm," which today we would call orgasm. At that time, doctors did not realize they were performing an erotic sexual function that was in fact highly pleasurable. Around 1880, a well-respected English doctor named Joseph Mortimer Granville patented the first electromechanical vibrator, initially for muscle aches but soon commandeered as a quicker, less manually exhausting treatment for hysteria.

In the film, Granville is fictionalized as Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy), a handsome young doctor who, because of his radical belief in the existence of germs and the sanitary practice of hand-washing, is having a very hard time establishing his career. After a string of failed interviews with doctors who still practice with leeches and hacksaws, he lands a secure job as an assistant to the renowned Dr. Robert Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce), who specializes in women's medicine and runs a private clinic out of his home. Granville is taught all the proved massage techniques, which are then used on Dalrymple's regular and bountiful roster of affluent patients, including an elderly woman who, despite having lost her husband some years earlier, is still afflicted with "urges."

As this is being established, Granville meets one of Dalrymple's daughters, the demure Emily (Felicity Jones), who's not only lovely but also a skilled pianist and well versed in the science of phrenology. In Dalrymple's eyes, Granville would make a fine suitor for his daughter, and indeed, the two begin a cordial, if restrained, courtship. But then Granville is introduced to her older sister, Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal); outspoken and confrontational, she's a socialist and suffragette who runs a settlement house for poor women and children in London's East End. Needless to say, her father disapproves of her progressive views and association with the lower class. Likewise, she disapproves of her father's medical practice, which profits from the treatment of women with a nonexistent mental disorder.

In a connected subplot, Granville's medical duties soon result in debilitating hand cramps. Here enters his wealthy and eccentric best friend, the deliciously witty Edmund St. John Smythe (Rupert Everett), who passionately tinkers with newfangled electric devices, including a telephone. Quite by accident, Granville discovers that the vibrations produced by Smythe's electric-powered feather duster do wonders for his smarting right hand. Putting two and two together, he and Smythe quickly fashion the world's first vibrating personal massager. They convince Dalrymple to try it on his patients, and of course, it's a resounding success. Granville's stature as Dalrymple's heir and Emily's fiancé will eventually be challenged by Charlotte, whose vexing nature reawakens his passion for progressive medicine.

While the plot is certainly conventional as far as romantic comedies are concerned, and although the ending is perhaps too tidy for its own good, I cannot sit here and deny that "Hysteria" had me smiling from the very first frame to the very last. Here is a bright, funny, hopelessly endearing film that benefits greatly from the sheer likability of its actors. That its story is just as blush-inducing today as it would have been in Victorian times only adds to its charm. We live in a day and age when frank discussions about sexuality are still by and large considered taboo, which is a shame because sex is an inescapable part of who we are. On a similar note, the film is also surprisingly timely, audacious in its assertion that we are all deserving of fair treatment, a quality education, and access to medical care. That many have stigmatized these ideals under the label of socialism reinforces the notion that we've come far but still have a long way to go.

-- Chris Pandolfi (www.atatheaternearyou.net)
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Vincentiu22 June 2013
an admirable work. and this is not a surprise. first - for the cast. second - the script, subtle, seductive, mixture of accuracy and precise lines of joy. an old fashion style romantic comedy. same rules, same science of detail. and history of a classic pleasure instrument. the Victorian atmosphere is perfect spice in this case. and good plate for rehabilitation of masterclass humor. I admit , I am subjective. Hugh Dancy and Rupert Everett are two of my favorite actors. and Maggie Gyllenhaal seems be, in this film, a version of Katherine Hepburn. but, more that, it is just an adorable, lovely, seductive comedy. and it is enough !
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Surprisingly good
grantss2 July 2015
Surprisingly good.

Was expecting a rather dry, documentary-style movie and it turned out to be quite funny, and thought-provoking. Despite it's potentially- raunchy subject, it manages to avoid all the easy dirty jokes and innuendo, and tells the story with sensitivity and a straight face. Also makes a case for women's lib.

Superb performances all round. Maggie Gyllenhaal is delightful and Hugh Dancy is charming. Good support from Jonathan Pryce and Felicity Jones. The hidden gem is Rupert Everett's performance as the eccentric scientist.
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Moderately entertaining, but forgettable
Argemaluco26 October 2012
One would think that a story about the "vibrator" or "personal massager" would be set in the '60s or the '70s, when the "sexual revolution" changed the attitudes from modern society. However, the origin of that gadget was during the late-19th century, as we can see in the film Hysteria, which employs the Victorian setting in order to create a typical British comedy, hussy but inoffensive. The result is moderately entertaining, but mediocre.

The best element from Hysteria is the actors, because they all completely adapted to the naughty tone required by the film. Hugh Dancy is credible as a shy doctor who had the genuine desire of helping his patients. Jonathan Pryce is perfect in his role, bringing an aristocratic poise to his character which extinguishes any trace of malice or bad behavior. Rupert Everett also brings a solid performance in his role; and Maggie Gyllenhaal is completely credible in her character, at the same time her British accent is perfect. On the other hand, her character is involved in the element I liked the least in Hysteria.

That element is the romance, which feels forced and unnecessary. I would have personally preferred a deeper examination of the medical practices during the Victorian time (even if it had been taken on a humorous context), instead of the insipid emotional stretch-and-loosen from the gallant who can't make his mind between two women. Nevertheless, I can give a slight recommendation to Hysteria as a moderately entertaining, but superficial and forgettable, film.
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not good at all
atillaerel26 April 2012
i am starting to believe the IMDb reviews and points are under the influence of the studios and their people. it is a comedy OK, here and there you might have a small giggle. but thats it. just a giggle. its a repetitive and boring movie. it does make a mockery of a few things in the future but thats it. thats the whole thing. its one of those movies you start viewing for 5 minutes and you can already tell the end. worse part is this one does not fill the void of bad scenerio with humor. just giggles and not too many i must say. don't waste your time. don't but it on DVD either it would be a total waste of your time and of course money
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Wonderful and charming! The VERY adult subject matter, handled most delicately, is still too much for those under 18
inkblot117 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) is an up and coming doctor in 1880's Britain. Dr. G is aware of all of the current medical information so when he insists on cleaning the wound of a lady's leg, regularly, while she is in hospital, the senior doctor fires him. What an injustice! Nevertheless, Dr. M goes back to his residence with a wealthy, eccentric inventor (Rupert Everett), he won't take any monetary loans. Most wonderfully, a new opportunity soon presents itself. A Dr. Dalrymple (Jonathan Price) is searching for an assistant in his treatment of women with hysteria. What's that? It turns out that Victorian ladies of the times have mental difficulties and the cure of the day is, ahem, manual stimulation of the women's private parts. That is, massage leading to orgasm! Yes! Naturally, any woman with the means "comes" regularly, haha, to visit Dr. Dalrymple, hence the need of a second practitioner! Our Dr. G, quite proper, throws himself into his work. In truth, there are a variety of draperies that make the operation as modest as possible. The older doctor, a widower, also has two daughters. The younger, Emily (Felicity Jones) attracts Mort's attentions right away, for she is all refined loveliness. But, the older one, Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal), who breezes in and out of the house on her way to a clinic/help station for the poor, is brash as well as beautiful. She's also an advocate for women's rights to a T so Mortimer is quite aghast at her doings. One unhappy day, Dr. Mort develops a crimp in his hand and can't properly administer the treatment to a demanding woman so Dr. D gives him the boot. That's when Dr. G, back at the inventor's home, sees possibilities in the man's mechanized feather duster! Ho ho! Also, Charlotte has a run-in with the law that lands her in jail. Does our Mort really prefer Emily? Please, movie lovers, don't overlook this film because of its subject matter. Yes, it is a historical look at the invention of the vibrator, which will upset some. But, set in Victorian times, the flick absolutely presents the most demure look at such a subject that ever was! In the spirit of the times, the treatment for hysteria is regarded as perfectly acceptable where as in modern times, both doctors would have been behind bars posthaste! The tale is mostly a romance, which will please many. As such, Dancy is terrific as the doctor while Gyllenhaal is most admirable and lovely as the woman ahead of her time. Jones, Pryce, Everett, and all of the other supporting cast members are great, too. The look of the film, with its sumptuous costumes, sets, and photography is a boon for the eyes, too. Then, as stated, the script and direction are lively, humorous, and never offensive. However, because of the adult subject matter, no one under 18 should be allowed a view. That said, most folks over that age will find it wonderful and charming, setting off vibrations of laughter and sighs.
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Very Enjoyable
sddavis6326 October 2012
Any movie that manages to offer you some knowledge of a little known piece of medical history, to give you a lot of laughs from beginning to end and that manages to mix in some social commentary along the way has to be a winner. The fact that "Hysteria" manages to do all that is first of all a great credit to Stephen and Jonah Lisa Dyer and Howard Gensler, who were all involved in the crafting of the story. It's wonderfully told. It' also wonderfully performed by pretty much the entire cast, mainly Hugh Dancy, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Jonathon Pryce, with some strong supporting performances thrown in, and director Tanya Wexler moves the story along smartly and crisply. There's really no "filler" but this also doesn't feel rushed. It's perfectly paced. So, technically, this is a marvellous movie.

It captures attention from its rather unusual subject matter - the invention of the vibrator. It causes, I suppose, a bit of a blush at times - particularly as you watch a variety of women, feet in stirrups, reacting to the "treatment" they're receiving, first manually from their doctors, and then using this magical new device. Let's be honest. Who knew that the vibrator was actually used very legitimately to offer a new form of treatment to women diagnosed with a condition that was recognized until the 1950's - hysteria. As one watches the "treatments" (all shown with a maximum amount of discretion and modesty, of course) one is tempted to think of these doctors as just dirty old men getting their kicks, but the movie makes clear that they really weren't. They believed in this condition and in this treatment, which relieved the symptoms of hysteria by bringing on a "paroxysm" - medical jargon for an orgasm, which had to be called a paroxysm because - well - women just didn't have orgasms, did they? It's actually quite fascinating to see the portrayal of medicine at the time (the movie is set in London in the 1880's) and we see not only hysteria and its treatment but debates about germs and the causes of infections. And it is quite funny, in a sexually suggestive (but not really sexual) way.

What I really liked about this, though, was that in the midst of the fun about the invention of the vibrator, there was an interesting social commentary going on, revolving largely around the role of women, the debate over female suffrage, the treatment of the poor at the time. That was all woven quite seamlessly into the story.

Now, having said all that, let's note that the history of the development of the vibrator isn't correctly portrayed. Dr. Granville (Dancy) didn't actually invent the machine for the purpose of treating hysteria in women, but rather for treating muscular disorders in men, and it was other doctors who discovered it a useful aid in the treatment of hysteria. I also haven't found any reference to the romance portrayed between Granville and Charlotte (Gyllenhaal) - whose character serves primarily to bring a feminist perspective to the story. (Granville's wife's name was Mary Ellen Ormerod.)

Historical inaccuracies aside, though, the movie is still a lot of fun to watch, and does offer a fair representation of some of the attitudes toward women and the poor that existed at the time. (8/10)
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If you've seen the trailer, you've seen the whole movie
FilmPulse14 May 2012
As is unfortunately the case with far too many films, Hysteria is not of one mind – that is to say that it tells two very different stories that are only tenuously linked thru the main characters rather than thru any particular plot points. It purports to be based on real events and indeed some portions of the film are historically accurate. It also represents one of the few romantic comedies to present itself as a partial biopic. However, much of the film is conjecture, albeit at times somewhat fascinating and entertaining conjecture. Indeed, the doctors' visits discussed below are quite amusing if not in the best taste for certain discerning viewers.

Hysteria tells the story of Dr. Mortimer Granville who found himself working for another physician who treated women for "female hysteria." This hysteria was once considered a real medical condition throughout Great Britain and on the European continent reaching its height of diagnosis and treatment in the late Victorian Era. Such hysteria was treated in a multitude of ways, but Hysteria focuses on Granville's adoption of the method used by the physician for whom he worked – the fictional Dr. Robert Dalrymple. Their method of treating hysteria was to ensure that their female patients achieved a "hysterical paroxysm." Simply put, what all of these hysterical women really needed was to experience an orgasm. The visitations by woman after woman to the doctors' office provide some fascinating and sometimes hilarious results. Just imagine a Judd Apatow film set in Victorian England and you will have some idea of what transpires in these visits. Ultimately, Granville – with monetary and technical assistance from a wealthy friend (wittily played by Rupert Everett) – creates the first electric device for a woman to satisfy herself without a man's assistance.

One might think this was an interesting enough topic for a Victorian period-piece comedy, but husband-and-wife screenwriters Stephen and Jonah Lisa Dyer add other intersecting plot. Dr. Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce) has two daughters. One is an extremely strong-willed, steel-spined fighter for women's issues named Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and the other a demure, science-minded ladylike supporter of her father's more conservative views named Emily (Felicity Jones). When first meeting the daughters, Mortimer (Hugh Dancy) is startled by Charlotte's behavior and attitudes and finds Emily much more to his liking. Mortimer and Emily begin a courtship of which her father approves as Dalrymple hopes to leave his practice to Mortimer with Emily by his side. However, Mortimer becomes increasingly interested in the spirited and winning Charlotte. When she stands up for her beliefs and publicly confronts her father and the police, Mortimer comes to her aid in court and we can see that they are destined to be together.

So how, you may ask, are the events described in the second and third paragraphs of this review connected? Well, they aren't really, and that is a major problem with the screenplay and the film itself. As suggested above, the film contains two distinct stories that are intertwined in an unusual and ultimately disappointing fashion. The cast is rather unremarkable, but then again they are not given much to do except play the characters so often seen in period comedies of this sort. Dancy seems to play the same character in nearly every film (with few exceptions). Jones has little to do but be pretty and polite. Pryce once again plays an English gentleman seemingly befuddled by those around him. Gyllenhaal (whose English accent is never quite right) once again plays a woman of conviction and spirit as she's done many times before. They adequately do their duty in representing these stock characters, but alas the script is not strong enough to make their efforts worth our while.

Todd FilmPulse.Net
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one of the best Era comedies.
damoft17 November 2013
Few era comedies mood achieve high standards today, this is one of those. Even funnier is the fact that the story is based on real events, with a very decent staging era with characters that his spirit ahead of his era at times seem somewhat anachronistic, however the highlight of the movie focuses on the well done humor that reflected situations that marked a revolution at early the role of women in the nineteenth century before Billie Jean King.

Putting together a frustrated doctor, the industrial revolution, Maggie Gyllenhaal (more like a Lisa Simpson adult) sexual repression and ultraconservative British are the perfect recipe for the invention of a device "doctor" used to cure the "disease" of hysteria.
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Let's talk about sex
mlwitvliet14 June 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Maybe a strange headline, but it's actually what it's all about.

We're writing the Victorian age. a time that sex was a big taboo and generally not much more then a way to reproduce. You almost ask yourself how it was ever possible that the upper-class with their upper morality did reproduce, because the lower class had a lot less problems with it.

But then sex is a number one necessities of life, so you get grumpy women who are left out to one of life first necessities To give it a name it's called hysteria by the men's world, and women like that should be locked up, or at least be treated.

But no fear, there we have doctor Dalrymple who has a solution by "Massaging the Vulva" which gives a huge impact and spasm on woman that will be followed by deep relaxation and therefore takes the hysteria away. This has nothing to do with sex, oh no, after all, woman can only feel pleasure when they are penetrated by a man. The sheer ignorance of this line made me really laughing my ass of.

Because of the sheer ignorance about sex in this age and the great humorous way how this subject is brought made it a very enjoyable movie to watch. The movie went of with a great bang by a certain line, which i will not tell. You want to know it? Watch the movie, you won't be sorry.
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Hysterical Blindness
spelvini6 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
A film of Female empowerment in Victorian London, Hysteria sets up like a modern tale of comic angst and resolves into a warm-and-fuzzy love story that never plays out. I really didn't expect the film to delight me so much with its light application of humor to what one might term as "women's problems", and I was happily won over and wanted to stay with the characters after the finale.

I am reminded of Carson McCullers' "…love is a joint experience between two persons — there are the lover and the beloved, but these two come from different countries." The film seems to have laid this down as foundation for the screwball events that spin before.

We know from the moment Hugh Dancy's enlightened doctor Mortimer Granville crosses paths with Maggie Gyllenhaal's equally enlightened Charlotte Dalrymple that these two are made for each other, and it's too bad that the script doesn't take care to carve out their arc more clearly. We are given one good scene when Mortimer is drawn to Charlotte's free clinic to aid one of her adopted strays, (les miserable), and we understand how the particular Victorian male honor is really compatible with the female desire for identity.

There are scenes of merriment that occur to divert our attention from the lack of real substance in the picture. A dinner table scene that further affirms that Charlotte and Mortimer are made for each other, a party scene in which Charlotte and Mortimer are mistaken for betrothed, and others solidify the underlying theme that kindred spirits are destined to come together. One particularly humorous scene pits three men dressed in protective mechanical gear with an electrical massager applying relaxation technique to a woman to relieve her hysteria.

As directed by Tanya Wexler, the script by Stephen Dyer, Jonah Lisa Dyer and Howard Gensler moves along at a stimulating pace, highlighting character-driven moments that give the film a very organic feeling. Wexler manages this very well by having individual motivations made apparent when characters are first introduced in the film. We first meet Dancy's doctor Mortimer as he is getting fired for preventing germs in a hospital, and Gyllenhaal's headstrong feminist Charlotte is introduced storming out of a doctor's office seeming to be another patient.

The movie delivers a satisfactory payoff, albeit somewhat non-Hollywood, but will still satisfy most of the true feminists and latent romantics in the viewing audience. Wexler only takes time to show that Mortimer and Charlotte come together and this is enough to cure all that ails them and the world.
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The Lighter Side of Victorianism
doug_park20017 May 2013
Overall, very good acting, script, and cinematography. This is one of Maggie Gyllenhaal's finest performances. Although I've seen better portrayals, HYSTERIA captures Victorian England quite well. This film is also genuinely funny at times if one has some appreciation for the bawdy (although there's no nudity). It's often said that comedy is most effective in dramatizing serious conflicts and situations; however, I was a little uncertain on where this was going and how to take it until the very end, where what we are told and shown makes sense of at least most of it. Still, the various disparate themes--early feminism, the fallacious catch-all diagnosis of female "hysteria," and the history of the vibrator (?)--don't entirely tie together, and the whole film seems incomplete. It's also a little unclear on how factual or fictional certain details, such as the bit about the Queen herself, are supposed to be, and where the directors are trying to convey solid history and where they're just having fun.

A good film, very interesting and entertaining, but not exactly a great one.
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rawiri4223 December 2012
A friend brought Hysteria to one of our regular Movie Nights and, as no one had seen it and most hadn't even heard of it, we decided to watch it. Well, we haven't laughed so much in the last 20 movie nights! We all needed paper napkins to dry the tears!

If you read all the reviews then you will have seen those with spoilers and know what Hysteria is all about. But for those of you who skip the ones marked with spoilers, I will not discuss the story here because I want to urge anyone who enjoys a good laugh to see this movie. I couldn't help wondering how accurate the portrayal of the "clinical" procedures was but wouldn't be at all surprised if it was pretty realistic - little curtains and all!

Hugh Dancey, Johnathan Pryce and Rupert Everett were brilliant as were the many lady patients of Dr Dalrymple's practice. I must admit that I wondered how an American actress in Maggie Gyllenhaal was chosen to play Charlotte Dalrymple when there are so many English actresses who would have done the job but, to give Maggie her due, she carried it off excellently.

I can't put a finger on it (pardon the pun!) but there's something about English period comedies that American counterparts just don't have. After Hysteria, our group watched another comedy (we didn't think we could cope with anything too serious after this!) which was all-American and, to be honest, it was more frustrating than funny. Wish I could figure it out. I think it has something to do with British humour being a lot more subtle that American which is a lot more "in-your-face."

Anyway, if you need a wonderful tonic and a damn good laugh, don't just watch Hysteria - buy it!
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Fun and refreshing
niklas4310 November 2012
I barely knew or expected anything when I sat down to see this movie. I must say I was very surprised. The main role is played perfectly, and the characters optimism and curiosity is so enjoyable that you will want to see more of the movie, just for this single reason. All the characters are very authentic and believable and you really feel like you're watching a real story unfold before you.

The movie itself has plenty of surprises of it own and you never fully know what is going to happen next. The best thing about the movie however, is all the funny scenes. From the main character to the laughs, the challenging of a taboo and the break between old English traditions and the new generation is as refreshing as watching a lucky-go-happy movie.
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