Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) is a doctor who believes in germs and modern medicine which sets him at odds with the rest of the medical establishment at the time. So he is more than happy when he finds a job with Dr. Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce), the resident expert in treating hysteria (by vaginal massage). Dalrymple also has two daughters – Emily (Felicity Jones) who is basically the ideal woman of the time and Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal), her complete opposite who is more interested in the shelter she runs than being a good wife to anyone. Mortimer soon finds that treating women for hysteria generally takes it out of him and his wrist. But then his friend Edmund St. John-Smythe (Rupert Everett) invents something that changes all their lives: the vibrator.
Hysteria is sweet and funny, but also very by the numbers. Nevertheless, coated around the formulaic structure there’s a lot of charm that makes the film very enjoyable.
The movie is quite cheesy sometimes – and really milks its double-entendres. But instead of coming off as annoying, it works because it’s so perfectly ridiculous. Also, Jonathan Pryce and Rupert Everett crank it up so much, it’s wonderful to watch.
Hugh Dancy and Felicity Jones take this movie a little too seriously and their characters are a little lackluster. Maggie Gyllenhaal, on the other hand, brings the right amount of fun to the role, but the role is just a little too much. I just never really bought that Charlotte could have actually behave that way.
The way the movie is set up, you basically know right from the start exactly what’s going to happen and how. And they don’t even try to alter that formula even the tiniest bit. A little more flexibility would have been nice.
But still, the film is enjoyable and made me laugh and even in the worst role, Maggie Gyllenhaal is worth watching, so there’s that.
Summarising: Perfect for a night of easy entertainment.