NON-HOLLYWOOD

Hysteria [2012]

Part of me doesn’t even want to tell you that “Hysteria” is a movie about the invention of the electric vibrator. My guess is, you’ll laugh and stop reading. Not so fast. There’s a promising premise on the boil here, and screenwriting team Stephen Dyer and Jonah Lisa Dyer make sure you get a history lesson out of it. Of course part of it is fictionalized, but the story is based on true events. Really it is. Hugh Dancy plays the doctor behind this invention. When we first meet him, it’s1880, and he is continually losing jobs. Then he lands a position as assistant to Dr. Robert Dalrymple (Jonathan Price), who specializes in manipulating a woman’s uterus to produce “paroxysms”, or the release of nervous tension. The method consists of having them lay down on a table, bare legs parted, as he manually massages their privates. It is strictly therapeutic he says, but we all know what the idea behind this procedure is. What the women know however, is that they are really into it (go figure). No more spoilers from me. Cheers to Dancy for making it hilarious at times, especially when he learns how hard work it is massaging women’s privates all day. The supporting cast includes Felicity Jones (“Like Crazy”) as Dr. Dalrymple’s daughter, Maggie Gyllenhaal as his “other” daughter, and Rupert Everett in a funny role as Dancy’s wealthy pal. “Hysteria” is not great, by any measure, but I found it diverting, and pretty entertaining. That’s a welcome combination in my book. And remember: it is strictly therapeutic!

Rating: 2.5/4

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