The last we heard about Tanya Wexler’s Hysteria was way back in January when we brought you some pics and some German posters, but we’ve had nothing since. You remember…it’s that movie we told you about with Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy – the one with all the vibrators.
Actually, Hysteria is a romantic comedy based on the true story of how Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) devised the invention of the first vibrator in the name of medical science. Today we have a new trailer and a new poster. (I love how innocuous the poster looks, giving away nothing.)
The film is centered on this life changing invention in Victorian-era England. Dancy and Jonathan Pryce star as doctors in London treating cases of ‘hysteria’, a condition said to be characterized at the time by a woman’s irritability, anger or unexplained tears. Dancy’s character and his best friend, portrayed by (an almost unrecognizable- plastic surgery gone wrong) Rupert Everett, experiment with a new electrical device for treatment of the ailment. Maggie Gyllenhaal portrays the daughter of Pryce’s character. Gyllenhaal looks like she’s having a blast.
London, 1880. Mortimer Granville, a dedicated and forward-thinking young doctor, is struggling to establish his career. While Granville preaches sanitation and germ theory, the old guard of doctors clinging to leeches and hacksaws, scoff at his upstart ideas, and show him the door. Granville’s fortunes change when he arrives for an interview at the well-appointed private offices of Dr. Dalrymple, London’s leading specialist in women’s medicine.
I suppose, if one wanted to make a film about the invention of the vibrator, one would have to make it a comedy or else they’d have to do it ultra-seriously; hyper-dramatic and earnest. There’s no middle ground. That Hysteria calls itself a romantic-comedy adds to the fun. Of course, it's been made with an exceedingly well-bred cast, including Felicity Jones, Anna Chancellor, Ashley Jensen and Tobias Menzies. We don’t want anyone to confuse this with fodder for the Spice Channel.
Hysteria was a hit at TIFF and a number of other festivals last year and has already opened in most of the world. It will get a limited release (NY & LA) in the US on May 18. Hopefully that means at least VOD for the rest of us.