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Tuesday 10 July 2012

'Hysteria' Movie Review + Cast & Crew Interviews

The movie 'Hysteria' opens in Australia this Thursday and it's an enjoyable cinematic 'romp' and loose history lesson all rolled into one.

Set in the 19th century, the film's plot is based on the management of 'hysteria', a diagnosis in women which was characterised by symptoms including "weeping, nymphomania, frigidity, melancholia and anxiety''.

Doctors at the time attempted to manage hysteria by massaging the genital area, covered for decency under a curtain, eliciting "paroxysmal convulsions"... you know - orgasms.

In the movie, a young Doctor Mortimer Granville [played perfectly by Hugh Dancy] gets a job to help Doctor Dalrymple - who runs a successful practice treating these 'hysterical' women. He has acquired quite the sizable following among his loyal female patients, but the poor man is tired, and needs help with keeping up with the task, well, at hand. Dr Granville soon becomes hugely popular and his appointment book fills fast as word spreads, but then he is struck by an unfortunate, though expected side effect: carpal tunnel.

Fortunately, his friend Lord Edmund St. John-Smythe [in a role that looks like it was made for Rupert Everett] has developed an electrical fan. Almost by accident, Dr Granville discovers that its vibrations are the perfect foundation from which to modify this contraption into an altogether different gadget [later in the film, as they try to come up with names for the machine set to make them rich and famous, they toss up various names including 'the nub rubber']. 

Dr Granville then files the first patent for the device as an electromechanical vibrator, called 'Granville's Hammer', in about 1883. However, Dr Granville did not actually apply his invention in the treatment of hysteria; instead, he used it to treat muscular disorders. It was other physicians who started to apply the vibrator for the treatment of hysteria. Later in the film, the vibrator is advertised for sale as the 'Jolly Molly'. 

At the same time, Dr Granville develops a crush on demure Victorian girl Emily Dalrymple, before falling head over heels with her older sister Charlotte, a feminist firecracker.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film - the plentiful play on double entendre is hilarious. It generates giggles by presenting risqué material in a very civilised context of proper English society.

Go see it! Here are some clips, starting with the scene where Dr Granville meets Dr Dalrymple, with the latter explaining the job at hand: 

And this one:

Here is the first of many cast interviews; this one with Maggie Gyllenhaal. She is just delicious to watch on screen:

Here's an interview with Hugh Dancy [equally delicious]: 

and confessions from the women on why they need to be helped with hysteria:

An interview with Ashley Jensen:

And here's one with Rupert Everett:

And here, with director Tanya Wexler:

Oh, and here is the modern day way the vibrator is viewed - 'Sex & The City' style:


  1. Saw this last night and looooved it! Good recommendation...

    Might actually go see it again with the hubby... hmmm, haha

  2. Hugh Dancy... swoon. Who knew?

    Sarah G, SA

  3. Loved, loved this flick. I'm watching it again this weekend. Strangely, got me a bit hot and bothered... ;)

    GG x