Weekend Roundup: Hysteria Review

Happy Monday all!

It’s been a busy weekend for me, girls movie nite, a friend’s birthday party, etc. all scheduled around the same time. Suffice to say, there’s no time for cinema viewing this weekend, though I finally did send y’all a reminder for the Small Roles… Big Performances blogathon, hope all you who signed up got it. Some of you probably stayed up late watching the Emmys, well since I hardly watched any TV, I didn’t even know it was on ’til I saw that it practically dominated Twitter on Sunday night. Well, hope those you rooted for wins! 😀

Anyway, here’s my review for this weekend:


That title refers to a now-obsolete [thank goodness!] catch-all diagnosis for women in the 19th century, those suffering from an array of symptoms such as nervousness, insomnia, exhaustion, depression, cramps, and sexual frustration. At the time, the medical practitioners treat the patients by um, massaging their genital area. In short, the movie explores the background of the invention of none other than the vibrator!

Given the subject matter, it could’ve easily been made into a cheap, vulgar farce, but fortunately, the filmmaker and cast somehow made this into a delightful comedy that keeps your cringe level at a minimum. Perhaps the fact that it’s directed by a woman (Tanya Wexler) might have something to do with it. Even the whole procedure of the “paroxysmal convulsions” as they call it at the time (which we all know what THAT means) is um, handled with care, even methodical to a fault!

Hugh Dancy plays Dr. Mortimer Granville (apparently based on this real doctor), an earnest physician who wants to make his mark on the work helping the sick, but somehow his vision is deemed too modern for his peers who didn’t see eye-to-eye on the effect of germs in human’s health! Somehow Granville ends up in the private clinic of Dr. Dalrymple, who employs Granville to treat women with hysteria with his method of a pelvic massage. As you could’ve guessed, the treatment was a massive success, with women lining up in his office day after day, which quickly leads to the poor Dr. Granville suffering from a severe hand cramps.

The invention of the vibrator itself is quite a hoot! Let’s just say that it was fortuitous how the inventors came up with such a device, in fact, it was meant to be an electrical duster!! The story is intertwined with that of Dalrymple’s oldest daughter Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal), the independent, free-spirited woman who wouldn’t submit to the societal norm for women in the 19th century and has a servant heart for the poor. Granville is inevitably torn between her and the more ‘obedient’ daughter Emily (Felicity Jones), though one could see a mile away who he’d end up with.

The movie is full of hysterical good fun, but not in a patronizing manner towards women, in fact, it’s quite obvious the filmmakers are for women emancipation, as the portrayal of Charlotte as the unconventional heroine is nothing but subtle. It’s a sex comedy, but it’s nice to see there’s more than that and I must say I’m glad we’ve come a long way in terms of women’s rights.

The standouts here are Dancy and Gyllenhaal, they are the heart of the story, with the vibrant Gyllenhaal stealing scenes every time she appears. She’s got screen charisma to be sure, and she captures the essence of a modern woman ahead of her time perfectly here. Jonathan Pryce was pretty good as Dr. Dalrymple, though I feel that Rupert Everett as Granville’s wealthy inventor friend seems rather bored throughout and Felicity Jones wasn’t really given much to do.

As it’s inspired by true events, the credits include images of early models of the sex toy from the Victorian era all the way to today’s. The ending suggests that even Queen Victoria herself was a customer, ahah! Hysteria works as a hysterical comedy, even rom-com, even if it’s lacking historical depth. But for a Friday night entertainment for a girls night in, it perfectly delivers!

Three and a half stars out of Five
3.5 out of 5 reels

I also got to rewatch one of my favorite Pixar movies, Monsters, Inc. which renews my appreciation for the movie, all the wonderful characters, and especially Billy Crystal-voiced Mike Wazowski! No surprise that he’s #2 on my top ten Pixar characters list.

The beauty of Pixar truly is in the story and characters, it’s just amazing how we easily got caught up in the world of these silly looking monsters and their plight involving one cutie-patootie human child!

So even though I had trepidations about it initially, now I’m quite looking forward to Monsters University!

Well, how’s YOUR weekend? Seen anything good?

35 thoughts on “Weekend Roundup: Hysteria Review

  1. I don’t think i came with way the same appreciation for Hysteria you did. All the characters seemed simplistic and one dimensional to me.

    This weekend i i rewatched the first 2 Matrix movies. And i must say,upon second viewing Reloaded seemed alright to me. I mean, the New vs a million Smith scene still seems rather silly, but everything else i think worked

    1. I certainly don’t think Maggie’s character as one dimensional, and Hugh’s character, though seemingly simple, he too has inner struggles that I think gives him some depth. But hey, wouldn’t be the first time we disagree on things 🙂

  2. HYSTERIA was such a delightful movie. Did you know that I got an invite for the screening in Los Angeles from the producer but didn’t have anyone there to be my reporter 😦 I need staff and people 🙂
    Emmys were boring as usual, but I did do red carpet report over at my place 😉

  3. I really like Maggie Gyllenhaal but this isn’t my cup of tea I’m afraid. I’ll probably avoid this for a while until it stumbles into my lap on tv one night. Good write-up though Ruth.

    1. Hi Mark, ha..ha.. I hear ya, I don’t think my husband was keen on watching this either, it was a fun watch for us girls though 😀 I like Maggie a lot, she’s quite under-appreciated I think. I like her more than her brother, ahah.

  4. Sounds like a fun weekend, Ruth. I might have to check out Hysteria sometime. Seems like a decent little film, plus it’s always fun to watch Maggie Gyllenhaal. Big fan of her work.

  5. Ted S.

    I’ve never heard of Hysteria, probably not going to see it since it’s not really something I would enjoy. I do like Monsters’ Inc, haven’t seen it in a long time though. I think it was the first Pixar film I watched when I bought my first ever HDTV back in 2001 or 2002.

    I didn’t see anything new over the weekend, I bought the Indiana Jones collection on BD and watched Raiders of the Lost Ark last Thursday. My date and I were thinking of seeing a film in theater Saturday night, but nothing really interests either of us, I thought of suggesting Dredd but blood and guts after dinner is not a good idea. 🙂

    1. Monsters Inc is sooo enjoyable, it’s been a while since I saw it but I’m glad I revisit that. Hey, you might actually enjoy Hysteria, you never know 🙂

      I might borrow your Indiana Jones BD set one day Ted, not sure if we’ll buy those, maybe if it goes on sale around Christmas.

      1. Ted S.

        Yeah I’ll lend the India Jones BD to you, not sure if they’ll come down in prices this holiday season. These popular films box set tends to stay at the same price for a while. I’m still waiting for Superman BD box see to come down in prices and so far, it’s still too high. Aliens and Back to Future came down in prices after a year it hits Bluray.

        1. Ted and Ruth I worked at Best Buy in the media department years ago and let me tell the box set prices actually go up for the holidays. Even at Amazon and online retailers. So shop early and try eBay.

  6. Hysteria’s in my Netflix queue, so I should get to it before the year’s end. I’ve been wanting to see it since I saw the trailer. It looks like a riot. 🙂

    I watched Mysteries of Lisbon this weekend, and I started rewatching the Indiana Jones trilogy (skipping #4). MOL was good, but at nearly 4 1/2 hours, it was quite a struggle to get through in one day.

    1. There are some laugh-out-loud moments to be sure, but not sleazy, which I really appreciate! Wow, that’s a lot of Indy watching! I might borrow Ted’s BDs and watch the trilogy, yeah I’ll be skipping the fourth one too 🙂

  7. Great review! I really need to watch Hysteria it sounds like so much fun and the story appears to be…interesting to say the least. Plus Hugh Dancy is really cute.

    1. It is, Sati, though I’m glad there’s some depth to it too, especially regarding Maggie’s character.

      Hugh Dancy is just so darn likable. I always enjoy seeing him in movies. He’s cute in an understated kind of way. What is it with those Brits! 😉

  8. I saw a movie along the same lines as Hysteria back in the mid 90’s called The Road to Wellville with Matthew Broderick and Anthony Hopkins. Horrible movie. Maggie’s been talking about the “vibrator” movie for ages. I probably pass though. Check out a movie of hers called Happy Endings. Tom Arnold is actually really good in it. Yep… that Tom Arnold. Lisa Kudrow is fantastic as a sad but bitter woman who gave up her son for adoption only to try to find him 19 years later. Out of all the actors that came out of Friends I like her the best by far.

    1. Thanks Dave! Wow, Tom Arnold?? Ha..ha.. As for Lisa Kudrow, I like her too, this sounds like a role that’s quite far away from Phoebe. I have seen a few of her movies where she’s basically playing a variation of that FRIENDS character.

    1. So you’re still quite swamped eh Fernando? Well don’t work too hard, man. I try to at least watch a couple of movies a week no matter how busy I am 🙂

      1. Yeah, not exactly swamped but my schedule’s been a mess. Like I’ve said before, it’ll be a matter of adjusting to the job and hours but right now is quite hectic. I’m planning to see more movies this week, though, and especially on the weekend,

  9. I wanted to see Hysteria when it came out, but never got to it… I’ll have to check it out on DVD. And Monster’s Inc. is very fun – I haven’t seen that in ages! John Goodman’s voice is perfectly suited to voice-over. Speaking of which, I saw Trouble With the Curve on the weekend and John Goodman plays a small, but enjoyable supporting role in that. It was okay – I liked it, but it’s not really a “must-see”. I wish Clint Eastwood could deliver a line in a way that doesn’t sound like he’s growling all the time. Amy Adams is really good and Justin Timberlake is entertaining (of course, he pretty much plays himself in everything but fortunately he happens to be fairly charismatic).

    Sounds like you had a great movie-watching weekend, Ruth!

    1. Hysteria should be available to rent now Janet. Oh yeah, I didn’t mention John Goodman but he’s so good as Sully. Both he and Billy Crystal are just perfect casting!

      Ahah, Clint does growl a lot doesn’t he? I might rent Trouble with Curve but not in a rush to see it.

  10. I was able to see Hysteria about two months ago. I probably enjoyed it on the same level you did. Although I was really expecting them to make it more vulgar than it really was. I mean the vulgarity was the selling point of the entire feature. I guess it was fun seeing Felicity Jones in something else other than Like Crazy. Although her part was extremely one note in this film.

    1. Ahah, you want it more vulgar?? I disagree that it’s the selling point, I mean the subject matter is already risque enough it’ll be TOO EASY to make it sleazy. I’m glad they didn’t go that route.

  11. Hysteria is truly such a slim wisp of a film in terms of story – bauble like to a fault but it’s ultimately so charming and even as Felicity Jones is just dull dull to me in it Maggie does a fine impression of her best Emma Thompson. She’s ridiculously charming in this.

  12. wow. You’ve been busy for sure!

    I didn’t bother with the emmys, I just read the results the next day. haha.

    Hysteria was playing here the other week, I opted to miss it, and from your review, though you enjoyed it…it was probably best for me that I did skip it. Although I am sad to have had to miss To Rome With Love this week…

    Hooray for Monsters Inc! the next one will be so fun

    1. I heard To Rome With Love wasn’t that good? But yeah, I’m more excited for the Monsters Inc sequel now, hope they have a good story too, though, as the characters are so awesome!

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