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Hysteria

Year: 2011
Production Co: Informant Media
Director: Tanya Wexler
Writer: Stephen Dyer/Jonah Lisa Dyer/Howard Gensler
Cast: Hugh Dancy, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jonathan Pryce, Felicity Jones, Rupert Everett

Despite the period setting and some of the serious themes of equality and persecution, this story about the invention of the vibrator and its place in stuffy Victorian England is a light-hearted comedy romp. Hugh Dancy is forward-thinking doctor Mortimer Granville (based on the real inventor) in an age where the medical establishment still applies leeches and dirty gauze in filthy hospitals. After losing a job at another cesspit, he finds work with established and respectable local practitioner Dr Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce).

Dalrymple has become a sought after provider of services easing the frustrations of society ladies to ease the symptoms of hysteria through pelvic massage, vulvar stimulation and any number of other names the social mores of the time wouldn't admit was simply masturbating horny women to orgasm.

Dalrymple has two daughters, straight-laced Emily (Felicity Jones, poised for stardom at the time the film was released thanks to The Theory of Everything), who everyone assumes will make Mortimer a fine wife, and the firebrand suffragette Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who runs a free health clinic and shelter for the fallen families of London.

While patients line up to receive the caring ministrations of the handsome young doctor and he prepares for a life with the agreeable Emily, things start to change. Firstly, his hand is constantly killing him, leading to the design and fabrication of the device thanks to an entrepreneurial friend (Rupert Everett). Mortimer also finds himself more drawn to Charlotte and her passions about womens' rights, education and health care.

Despite an outlook that's very political at times, it's an inoffensive and frothy reworking of history into a mildly saucy tale of the kind American audiences love – of a lone rebel shaking up entrenched but crumbling traditionalism.

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