At first glance, “Hysteria” appears to have the makings of your typical, charming period comedy — man falls in love with ambitious young woman against a backdrop of changing times. That is, until the vibrator enters the picture.
“Hysteria” is inspired by the invention of that titillating device during the 19th century as a means of curing “hysteria,” a then-common diagnosis in women that covered everything from nervousness and insomnia to irritability and sexual frustration. To cure hysteria, doctors would give patients a “pelvic massage” until they reached “hysterical paroxysm” and were miraculously cured (in other words — orgasm).
Hysteria became easier to treat with the creation of “pelvic massage” devices, aka the origins of the vibrator. And it’s that medical conundrum and unexpected solution that’s at the heart of “Hysteria.”
Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) is a young doctor who is hired by England’s leading women’s medicine physician, Dr. Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce). Through their treatment of hysteria, Mortimer and his colleagues invent the earliest incarnation of the vibrator.
All the while, Dr. Dalrymple is convinced that his daughter Emily (Felicity Jones) would be the perfect wife for Mortimer. But Mortimer finds himself drawn to Dr. Dalrymple’s other daughter, Charlotte, an outspoken and spunky alternative to Emily’s prim and proper Victorian lady.
The trailer plays up the film’s romantic comedy charm much more than its risque elements. But this teaser exudes charm, and it’s unusual hook is enough to pique to my curiosity.
“Hysteria” hits theaters May 18. Check out the trailer below.
. . .
Follow Alexa Milan on Twitter at http://twitter.com/alexamilan.
And don’t forget to “Like” It’s Just Movies on Facebook at