Cricket, gingivitis, fish and chips – all products of the great nation of Britain…but who’d have thought that the innovators of food wrapped in newspaper could have ever come up with the humble invention of a device that satisfies women in ways that most men can’t?
Based on true true events (or so they claim), Hysteria is the Victorian era tale of Mortimer Granville, a young doctor who after losing his job at a hospital, manages to find employment with a psychologist specialising in female mental disorders, typically diagnosing his patients with hysteria. Doctor Robert Dalrymple’s methods are equally bizarre, remedying the insanity by massaging the “pelvic area”, as according to the good doctor, the treatment isn’t sexual as it isn’t penetrative. This is a concept that Mortimer finds compelling and rises to the occasion but soon finds himself attracted to the old doctor’s daughters – one subservient, the other a philanthropic idealist.
When it comes to movies, the last thing I could possibly imagine is the adaptation of the origin of the vibrator (if you don’t know what that is, you’re probably too young to be on here!). But amazingly, this period story is brought to the big screen in thunderous laughter and somehow never takes itself too seriously…then again, I can’t imagine the plot being anything but humorous.
Even more surprising is that this isn’t your standard backyard comedy club material, it’s intelligent and performed masterfully by the cast in the driest of British deliveries. Ironically, teenagers will probably get the least out of this movie due to the style of the humour; on the other hand, the audience will probably consist mainly of randy old hens, so pick your poison but at least the latter won’t be texting during the film.
It’s a pleasure to sit through a comedy film of this nature without cringing on a constant basis, as is often the case with american movies. It’s not just that the script is handled with more sensitivity, but the fact that it is a superbly written, character driven drama that happens to be funny with its interesting dialogue that makes it a real success.
Lovers of British comedy will relish at the material in Hysteria. An obvious warning here is for those that are a little on the conservative side and don’t enjoy raunchy humour.
The Bottom Line
It’s a rare treat to see a period piece that’s driven so effectively by laughter. The humour is relentless in its raunchiness but never cringeworthy, and my sides were effectively split on exit. It’s hard to fault a film that is so daringly cleaver and Hysteria stands alone as an example of British comedy that manages to deliver constant giggles but still maintaining its composition as a serious drama.