Hysteria is a romantic comedy set in the 19th century. I watched a preview for the movie and thought, sure I’ll give it a chance. The synopsis of the film that I had read didn’t really divulge any information or accurately portray what I was going to be watching.
The film stars Hugh Dancy, as Dr. Mortimer Granville. Granville is a young doctor who is trying find a job in which he can help patients without having to argue with the other doctors about modern medicine, which usually results in him being terminated. Granville gains employment in the home of a Dr. Dalrymple played by Jonathan Pryce, and assists in his treatments of women suffering from Hysteria. Despite the word being in the title, it did not occur to me to look up the definition of this word. Hysteria was a diagnosis given only to women of this time, as the modern world does not accept this diagnosis anymore. The symptoms of Hysteria ranged from being tired, nervous, horny, short of breath, irritable, or causing “trouble.” The list was rather endless and could cover any number of things. The treatment used in these cases was a sort of relief done by medical professionals which left me shocked and frankly laughing hysterically. The doctors would relievethese women of their ailments through masturbating them. In the film it was done in such a fine manner including red velvet curtains with tassels on golden rods. Granville begins to suffer from his own ailment while the patient list begins to grow. Through the help of his rich friend (played by Rupert Everett) who is passionate about electricity, they create what is known today as the personal Vibrator.
The film focuses on Granville as he tries to gain employment resulting in a possible agreement between himself and his employer regarding work and marriage. The film revolves around passion and duty, what is expected of us and how people’s definitions of this differ. Maggie Gyllenhaal plays a young woman who devotes herself completely to helping the less fortunate. She is known to be an abrasive woman, and her appearance does not rightly reflect her status in society. She goes to great lengths to try and keep her settlement house and provide for the poor. Her passion and her harsh actions get her in trouble as she is described as having Hysteria and a judge potentially sentencing her to jail and to have a hysterectomy performed on her.
The film had the perfect amount of comedy aligned with this period piece. I enjoyed it much more than I was expecting and I would recommend that you check it out. Now that you know what is expected in the film, it may not come as such a surprise to yourselves, however it is still a decent watch. This recommendation should also correspond with your tastes, which should include romantic comedies and acceptance of period pieces.