Hysteria Review

Women, know your place.

Of course, that’d have been a whole lot easier if Victorian men accepted they even had one.

Mortimer Granville is a doctor ahead of his time.

Preaching to the late 19th century medical world of some invisible and new-fangled idea known as germs, Granville is turfed from medical pillar to post by a bunch of retarded, old boy doctor dinosaurs who refuse to evolve with the times.

It’s funny how alienation is so often the price visionaries are made to pay for being ahead of the curve.

Still, it doesn’t take Granville long to fall on his feet.

Walking into a suspiciously female packed waiting room, Granville is interviewed by Dr Robert Dalrymple for an opening at his prestigious London practice.

Dalrymple’s medical specialty? Hysteria.

According to the learned doctor, this supposed disease afflicts more than half the women in London, manifesting itself in all manner of irrational ways.

Like the woman who wants to embed an axe in her husband’s balding pate every time he wants to climb on top of her.

Hysteria, obviously.

Or wives depressed that the only options in their lives revolve around what they can make their husbands for dinner.

That’ll be hysteria too.

But there is a cure to this maudlin affliction, involving a generous massaging of a hysteria sufferer’s most sensitive area from a gentle doctor’s hands.
Praise the lord.

Trouble is, there are so many hysterical women in London that Dalrymple needs someone else on his staff to help out.

So Granville, being the dashing young fellow that he is, agrees to lend a hand.

Soon enough, our young idealist finds himself pulled in different directions by Dalrymple’s charmingly different daughters, as well as his own medical calling in life.

Based on a true story, really, Hysteria is the tale of how one man’s medical practice became the basis of the world’s biggest selling sex toy.

Which sounds like an odd idea for a film, and I guess it is. But it must have been a lot of fun pitching this idea to different Hollywood studios.

Fortunately for everyone concerned, director Tanya Wexler has come up with a far more worthy script than most would have pointed Hysteria in the direction of.

The premise may be laughable now, and there are many laughs to be had in Stephen and Jonah Lisa Dyer script, but as recently as the 1950’s “Hysteria” was still an acceptable medical diagnosis for depressed and unsatisfied women.

Which is the most hysterical thing of all.

Fortunately for all concerned, we live in more enlightened times now. Though I’m sure there’ll be plenty future generations of humans will look back on and laugh about 2012.

Like our capitalism.

Or religion.

Hugh Dancy is sufficiently dashing as Doctor Mortimer Granville, the man behind the demise of hysteria.

Maggie Gyllenhaal is spirited as Charlotte Dalrymple, the elder of her medical father’s two daughters with an eye for Granville, and Rupert Everett is stuck in typecasting hell once more as the suave and sexually ambiguous aristocratic playboy Edmund St. John-Smythe.

With a name like that, I guess the aristocratic bit is a little redundant.

I had a lot of fun watching Hysteria, it’s got a good story that’s well acted and is made all the better for the fact it’s based on the follies of our past.

Best of all, this true story eventually lead to both genders being able to appreciate a woman’s place.

Jonathan Campbell

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September 2012
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