“Hysteria” – He created an invention that turned on half the world.

Hugh Dancy. Maggie Gyllenhaal. Rupert Everett. Vibrators. There you have it, all you need to know about “Hysteria”.

But seriously, this movie was pretty good. When my girlfriend first mentioned this movie to me, I have to admit that I was skeptical about a film chronicling the invention and first uses of the vibrator. The fact that it takes place in Victorian England did not help my cause either as I figured it would be a bunch of poshy people walking around, saying things like “Tally-ho” and “Pass the cheese and crumpets” and somehow involving a sex toy. But last night she finally got me to sit down and give it a watch, and I have to say that I came out pleasantly surprised and smiling.

The movie starts with a young doctor working in a poor house but clearly caring more about the well-being of his patients and the science involved than the fact that they’ll be dead soon anyway. We learn that he’s been kicked out of just about every medical practice in England within a year’s time, but he continues to go back to his good friend, Rupert Everett. After a series of failed job interviews, the good doctor lands a gig relieving stress, or “Hysteria” from women who are having…thoughts that seem to be troubling them. Without going into the details, the doctor’s hand eventually begins to cramp up from, uh, the method of relieving stress. Thus, enter the accidental invention of the vibrator.

This is exactly how I picture medicine in the late 1800’s.

That’s pretty much the synopsis of the movie right there so I don’t feel I gave anything away unless you walked into this not knowing anything about it, nor guessing from the tagline. Anywho, it’s also got an underlying love story which may or may not be true to the historical facts but who cares. It’s your average guy loves girl maybe doesn’t love girl but loves other girl who is hard to get but tries anyway, so nothing you haven’t seen before. Piecing both stories together is a wonderful cast comprised of Hugh Dancy, who looks like Wolverine’s much handsomer younger brother (and could probably give Hugh Jackman a run for the money), Maggie Gyllenhaal who, from an American point of view nails the British accent along with the “I’m a rebel!” archetype, and finally Rupert Everett as the doctor’s best friend. I’ve seen Everett in only a few things but he completely stole the show in my opinion. He may have been a supporting character but he plays the whole “I’m really rich and don’t care about much so whatever” thing superbly, and I found myself laughing every time he spoke. So for a well rounded cast, an interesting story, and a great backdrop this made for an excellent film about something that you’d never think actually had an origin.

DIRECTOR’S CUT: I’m struggling trying to think of more things to say about this movie, but it’s about the creation of the vibrator…so take that with a grain of vibrating salt.



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