Review: Hysteria

May 24, 2012, 4:48 am
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Inventors have been the subject of innumerable films over the decades: Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown discovering time travel via a DeLorean DMC-12, Mark Zuckerberg - with an assist from the Winklevii - clicking the "Like" button for the initial time, and one of the most obscure, Ricky Gervais introducing the world to lying.

While all of those contributions were immeasurably impactful to mankind, I'd argue that Dr. Mortimer Granville's invention, the vibrator, is the one that quite literally reverberated across the history books. And now, thanks to Hysteria - a just charming enough period piece about the unleashing of device and its grip on the fairer sex - we lovingly know the pulsating history of the pocket rocket.

Setting out in search of work after graduating from med school, Granville (Hugh Darcy) stumbles upon Dr. Robert Dalrymple (the one-time Infiniti spokesperson, Jonathan Pryce), a man quite proficient in manually pleasuring the posse of sexually unsatisfied women piling up in his 1880s London office.

Gifted with stimulation skills in his own right, Granville gets his gig, quickly becoming the scuttlebutt about town thanks to his legendary powers of titillation, treating the so-called "hysteria".

The good doctor soon has to balance his work with his love life, falling for his employer's daughter, Emily, a woman who fancies herself an intellectual by way of mapping folk's heads for personality traits. But it's Dalrymple's other daughter, the rebellious Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal), that truly beguiles Granville.

Gyllenhaal puts on her best British accent and emotes the woes of being a late 19th century woman, rebelling against the abject diagnosis of "hysteria" as Granville suffers a ferocious case of overactive phalange, leading to his light bulb flash of inspiration.

It's all very Pride and Prejudice in nature, or for that matter any film in which the guy eventually realizes that the gal he finds most irritating is truly the one for him - AKA, any and every romance in the history of cinema. 

But given the allure of learning the origins of something as buzz-worthy as the vibrator, Hysteria provides just enough pleasures to give it a pass.

Grade: B-

It was many moons ago in a darkened theater that my love of cinema took root as I snuck in to see my first R-rated film, Blade Runner. The futuristic vision that Ridley Scott unleashed on the screen was simply soul-expanding — spiritual even. From that moment, my mission to have that kind of magic strike again began in earnest. My hope is to be able to shine a light on films that may just have that kind of effect on you — films that may be lesser known, but not lesser in impact. 
- Erick Weber

Final Cut Scoring System
99-95% Opening night
94-90% Opening weekend
89-86% In theaters
85-83% On Demand
82-80% Netflix/Redbox
79-75% If desperate
74-70% If dozing off
69-65% If intoxicated
64-60% If comatose
Below 60% If brain dead

Erick's reviews
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