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:

Hysteria

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?