Hysteria Blu-ray Review
HYSTERIA follows the medical practices of Dr. Robert Dairymple (Jonathan Pryce) and his young associate, Dr. Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) as they treat women who have been diagnosed with ‘hysteria’. Ranging from a variety of symptoms, including nervousness, insomnia, exhaustion, depression, cramps, and sexual frustration these women were treated by receiving a genital massage by the doctors to elevate their discomfort. Yes. You read that correctly. When Dr. Granville’s hand cramps result in unsatisfied patients, he and his friend, playboy rich kid, Edmund St. John-Smythe (Rupert Everett) stumble into the mechanics of using an electrical device to treat the women.
After watching this film I have to question who is the target demographic for this film? Viewing this film in the company of family members or friends would feel awkward or uncomfortable while the women visit the doctors. Truly, HYSTERIA is nothing to get hot and bothered about. The story is a bit of a let down and tries to be more than what it is: a tale of the accidental invention of the modern day vibrator. As taboo or exciting as that plot might sound, I was bored and did not find much interest in any of the sub-stories. The stuffy Victorian era provides a funny backdrop when considering the closed door activities taking place in the doctor’s office but after the first visit the shock is gone and the ho-hum progression of this film takes place.
It is a shame that all of the performer’s talents were wasted in this film. Some of the monologue scenes made me think of overdramatic theater classes or the Jon Lovitz “Acting!” bit from Saturday Night Live. Almost like the cast knew that they had to put everything into this script for it to be marginally decent. Maggie Gyllenhaal was a bit of fresh air to this stuffy flick but even her outbursts fall into what I’ve just described. Though his appearances in this flick are far and few between, I did get a laugh out of Rupert Everett’s telephone calls. I also enjoyed the few moments that Sheridan Smith’s Molly was onscreen. Her ornery attitude made her one of my favorite characters in this flick.
Hugh Dancy’s chemistry with Felicity Jones was spot on for a relationship of advancing his position with in the growing practice, but the moments between Dancy and Gyllenhaal were nothing spectacular. What was with the odd hairstyle that Jones donned at the engagement party? Outside of being cruel, it is hard to see the reasoning behind Dr. Dairymple toward his daughter. Who tosses their daughter in jail for helping the poor? Perhaps a commonplace act in the 19th century, but it still seemed like a random event to add more conflict to the yawn-fest. Or a catalyst to wrap up the picture in a nice neat bow.
Audio Commentary: Director Tanya Wexler provides the viewer with a standard commentary that is informative but nothing great.
An Evening with Tanya Wexler, Hugh Dancy and Jonathan Pryce (12:26): The director and actors participate in a question /answer session.
Hysteria: Behind the Scenes (5:41): In typical fare, the cast and crew share moments from behind the scenes, their characters and the story.
Deleted Scenes (2:52): Four rightly deleted scenes.
Passion & Power: The Technology of Orgasm (43:07): This feature highlights pieces of the invention of the vibrator documentary.