Baby's First Vibrator 

Hysteria's Historical Snooze Fest

HYSTERIA "In the pink of health"? Right? Right!? Get it!

HYSTERIA "In the pink of health"? Right? Right!? Get it!

IT'S NEVER PRODUCTIVE to compare the movie you saw with the movie you wish you'd seen, but it's impossible to avoid in the case of Hysteria, which promises an irreverent historical farce about handjobs and vibrators—then delivers a prudish, preachy love story.

Set in Victorian London, Hysteria is salted with just enough smutty historical detail to distinguish its boring period-piece love story from all the other boring period-piece love stories. Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) is an ambitious young doctor who gets bonus critical-thinking points for believing in the existence of germs. He loses them again, though, for his credulity on the matter of "female hysteria," when he takes a job at a practice that specializes in relieving the symptoms of hysteria via "pelvic massage." (All this euphemizing is to say that he gives women handjobs for a living. It calms 'em down.) Eventually, Dr. Fingerbang invents a machine to take over his job for him—and that, boys and girls, is where vibrators come from.

This history—slightly massaged—is plenty interesting on its own, but Hysteria is too uncomfortable with its subject matter to let the female orgasm take center stage. (It's telling that all of Mortimer's patients are middle aged and unattractive—all of the "massage" sequences are studiedly unsexy and played for laughs.) Instead, a subplot is manufactured involving a fiery social reformer (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who urges Mortimer to leave his lucrative practice and devote himself to helping the poor—the real work of doctors, Hysteria wants us to know, is not mucking about wrist-deep in unhappy rich women. But it also wants us to know that "hysteria" is a phony diagnosis used to keep women down, especially spirited women like a certain fiery social crusader. It seems blithely unaware of that contradiction—and of the more fundamental problem that, for a movie about the female orgasm, Hysteria doesn't seem to like women very much.

Hysteria
Rated R · 95 min. · 2012
Official Site: www.facebook.com/Hysteriamovie
Director: Tanya Wexler
Writer: Stephen Dyer, Jonah Lisa Dyer and Howard Gensler
Producer: Sarah Curtis, Judy Cairo and Tracey Becker
Cast: Rupert Everett, Hugh Dancy, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Felicity Jones, Jonathan Pryce, Anna Chancellor, Gemma Jones and Tobias Menzies

Trailer


Now Playing

Sorry there are no upcoming showtimes for Hysteria

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Comments are closed.

From the Archives

More by Alison Hallett

Most Commented On

Top Viewed Stories

All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC

115 SW Ash St. Suite 600
Portland, OR 97204

Contact Info | Privacy Policy | Production Guidelines | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy