Hysteria (2011)


Orgasms, apparently women have them as well as men. I won’t go into the mechanics of it all, but suffice to say, men cannot always assist a woman with this, the most natural of bodily functions, and so they turn to the aid of mechanical devices to satisfy their carnal desires.

This film tells the story of how such an invention came to be. Invented in the late 19th century by Mortimer Granville, Hysteria, portrays the creation of the vibrator in a comical, albeit slightly awkward, light.

This is not my usual style of film, not by a long shot, however I chose it because it sounded fun and had a fantastic cast. I decided to watch it alone too, purely to gain a male perspective on it and not be influenced by my partner.

The cast, as I say was a huge influence on my decision to watch Hysteria and with names including Hugh Dancy, Rupert Everett, Jonathan Pryce, Ashley Jensen, Felicity Jones and Academy award nominee Maggie Gylenhaal it is obvious why it appealed.

With such a strong cast list, the job of Tanya Wexler as director was a very simple one, a good thing considering she has a fairly limited portfolio of appearances in the directors chair.

The plot is simple. Struggling doctor goes from practice to practice until he attains a role at a London Clinic dealing in women’s ailments, namely Hysteria. He discovers some rather effective methods of treatment and falls in love along the way.

Hysteria is a gem of a film, I fully enjoyed each and every second of it. It had me laughing, giggling, smirking and sitting in my seat slightly embarassed and unsure where to look. It delivered on every level that I had hoped it would. The plot and fluidity of the story is well thought out, each piece of the overall tale being told in a comical and often awkward way which adds to the prudish charm of a film that is, at its core, discussing a rather taboo subject, even for modern media.

I am unsure of the exact accuracy of Hysteria, I did attempt a Google search on the subject but suffice to say the results were, not quite what I was looking for! (Internet history has been deleted!)

As a comedy Hysteria works, it also works as a romantic film, screen relationships are very well depicted and progressively become more and more of a feature of the film.

Hysteria works best I feel, due to the female director Tanya Wexler, the subject matter is and always will be quite female orientated and to have that female perspective guiding the film aided it no end. Although some equal rights activists may hunt me down for saying it, I do think that a male director in the chair would have ultimately meant the loss of some of the inner most essence of the plot.

I wont stray too far further into this other than to say that as a film to enjoy on your own or in the company of someone special, as is the subject matter, Hysteria is ideal.

Director: Tanya Wexler
Stars: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hugh Dancy, Jonathan Pryce
Runtime: 100 min
Country: UK, France, Germany, Luxembourg

Film Rating: ★★★★½

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