Okay, so I signed up to screen this movie for a little gig I run with Insite Magazine here in the city. Movie reviews, celeb Q&A’s, fun stuff, fun perks. Yes, I was absolutely warned what it was about Hysteria , and I can’t help but admit I was 100% curious to see what it would be like. Especially with star studs like the adorable, absolutely my favorite Maggie Gyllenhaal and the cutest thing ever, Hugh Dancy, and the added fact that it was a period piece set in the late 1800s did everything to confirm my peaked (no pun intended) curiosity.
For those of you clicking away to IMDB (or whatever acronym Sallie is giving it today), I can tell you that this is the story of the evolution of the vibrator. Ha! The unspoken glee-giver to middle-aged housewives in the early 20th century to “treat” them of their unexplained “hysteria.” This of course developed out of the severe and debilitating hand cramps one ingenue doctor got while performing one (or hundreds) too many, well, fingerings. Really.
The story was excellently light hearted, with gentle humor and a quirky, subtle love story behind it all. Amidst political movements, daring scientific discoveries and a stiff, threatened English society, this story proves a tickle (ok, pun intended that time) in the tail feather of what was acceptable, tolerable and enjoyable.
Maggie is on fire as the strong-willed, goodwill giving daughter of the town’s gyno, who challenges Dancy’s shy, stuttering and nervous new understudy of that same man. We watch characters learn a little (to a lot) about themselves, we see a gentle sway in the acceptance of a wider range of society and we’re forced to giggle out reactions to some of the silliest (but, hey – it really happened) processes to “satisfy” idle women all over London.
My recommendation? See it for shits and giggles, first and foremost, but justify it in the fact that it’s based entirely on true events and offers your history-lovin brain power a few more horses to run on–err, ride on–err, you get the picture (wink, wink).