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Hysteria

29 Nov

It’s 1880 in London and young, keen, medical graduate Dr Mortimer Granville (played by Hugh Dancy) is looking for a job. He hasn’t lasted long in positions up to now because he earnestly tries to introduce new-fangled notions about cleanliness and eradication of germs … but these ideas are summarily rejected by the well established London medical fraternity. To his relief, he finally lands himself a job with Dr. Robert Dalrymple (by Jonathan Pryce) in his Harley Street rooms. Curiously, Dr Dalrymple’s clientele are all women – all receiving ongoing treatment for the known female condition of the time … ‘hysteria’. Dr Granville shares the workload with his new boss, but the client list keeps growing and he begins to find the treatment physically arduous. He meets Dr Dalrymple’s lovely young daughters, Emily (by Felicity Jones) and Charlotte (by Maggie Gyllenhaal) and realises his boss would like him to marry into the family to ensure the continuation of the Dalrymple practice. Dr Granville’s workload continues to increase and it starts to take its toll, so he becomes desparate to allay the repetitive strain effects of the therapy. One day he stumbles upon an easier way to administer the treatment. – whereupon life in the professional circles of London begins to get very busy and a little more complicated …

This movie is very entertaining, you will no doubt chuckle out loud as you watch these gentrified doctors administering their “treatment” to the hysterical ladies of Victorian London. In the opening titles, we learn that this story is “based on true events” but then it does continue with: “Really.”  In a nutshell, the entertaining story gives us a background to the introduction of the vibrator – it’s marvellously and wittily told, without a shred of offence or judgement. Hugh Dancy is marvellous as the innocent and accepting Dr Granville – however, as has been the case before, I found his performance to be secondary to others, not a starring role. Best performances by a long way are by Maggie Gyllenhaal and Rupert Everett. Gyllenhaal’s character is so much larger than life and she shines in this portrayal – the screen lights up whenever she appears – she’s stunning and the costume styling suits her very well, just beautiful. Ruper Everett is the deliciously mischievous Edmund St. John Smith, Granville’s mentor and friend – he has the best lines to deliver and his performance is just wonderful. It’s a very entertaining and well made movie – funny and sweet. I didn’t expect to, but I enjoyed it a lot.

Made in 2011.  Directed by Tanya Wexler

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Posted by on November 29, 2012 in Movies

 

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