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Romantic comedy and true story about how Dr. Mortimer Granville invented the world's first electromechanical vibrator in 1880 Britain as a cure for female hysteria.

Young physician Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy, Martha Marcy May Marlene) is too forward-thinking for the medical orthodoxy, and ends up being kicked out of hospital work. Granville finds himself in the employ of Dr. Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce, Evita), a specialist who takes a hands-on approach to 'curing' his patients of severe hysterical symptoms such as unhappiness and boredom.

Unsurprisingly  Dalrymple's proto-feminist daughter Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal, Secretary)  rubbishes the very idea of hysteria, along with most 19th Century ideas about women. Her free-thinking ways challenge and appeal to Granville, who's starting to wonder why he's putting such a strain on his wrist applying the therapeutical procedures. One day he makes a chance discovery thanks to budding electrical inventor Lord Edmund St. John-Smythe (Rupert Everett, My Best Friend's Wedding), and hey, presto - good vibrations.


Directed by

True Story & Biography, Historical


Rating: M contains sexual references


Official Site

It’s easy to chuckle with a bit of 21st Century superiority at how little we seemed to know about medical science just over a hundred years ago, but who knows how our beliefs are going to be viewed in the future? “Quantum mechanics, stem cells, what a load of bollocks” perhaps.

Adding outmoded sexual notions to the mix, as Hysteria does, is another source of easy laughs, but unfortunately the film doesn’t mine this territory for gags as effectively as somewhat similarly themed The Road to Wellville – the only other non-pornographic film that comes to mind in which therapeutic clitoral massages are an important element.

Despite its subject matter, Hysteria is a rather polite comedy that only sparingly uses ribald humour, and then in a manner that’s a bit too much of a pander to the audience. It’s more a lightweight tale about gender roles in the late 19th Century, and easy-going period rom-com for the older set than a taboo-buster.

The relationship between young physician Mortimer Granville (Dancy) and the daughters of his boss Dalrymple is central, proto-feminist Charlotte (Gyllenhaal) rubbishing the idea of hysteria, an opinion that puts her at odds with Granville – who despite grooming the other Dalrymple daughter for marriage between ‘treating’ his patients is clearly enraptured with this firebrand.

Displaying the bare minimum of humour, tension or romance, Hysteria goes through the motions without eliciting much of a reaction despite its seemingly racy subject matter.

Boxoffice Magazine


Though the film is a fairly plastic British period piece with all the intimacy of a Hitachi Wand, the script captures some delicate and intelligent facets of a tensely conflicted era.

Chicago Sun-Times (Roger Ebert)


The performances are spot on, and I especially like the spunky Gyllenhaal, who with this film and the underrated "Secretary" (2002), has built up a nice sideline in sexual exploration.

Empire (Australia)


Lightly humorous, well performed and not nearly as smutty as you might imagine. The earth may not move, but there are tingles of pleasure along the way.

Hollywood Reporter


Hysteria, is a pleasurable diversion, even if it could have used a touch more spark in the writing.

Time Out New York


There's nothing strictly wrong with any of this, except for the fact that even a buttoned-down period piece like 'Topsy-Turvy' feels sexier.

Variety (USA)


Dancy manages a few sly moments, and Everett is as ever a scene-stealer, if barely recognizable under a beard and altered features, and with a raspy voice. But the estimable Pryce and Jones are wasted, along with many other fine thesps, while Gyllenhaal works too gratingly hard in an already strained role.

Good Fun

As much about the rise of feminism as it was about the invent of the vibrator...excellent dynamic between the two leads.

Amazing to see how far we have come with the sexual revolution behind us ,free education for all and equal rights .




A distraction from the daily grind...

.Hysterical, not quite, but funny, well acted.