Writer: Siti Munawirah MustaffaWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"Mrs. Henderson Presents" and “Easy A”
If you find raunchy, erotic jokes to be IQ diminishing and barf-inducing tiring, then perhaps "Hysteria" might just provide you a good humour to laugh about despite being centred on women's most sensitive area. One thing for sure, the film is none of these two adjectives, i.e 'crass' and 'crude'.
Set in Victorian-era London during the 19th century, the film is based on real life events where women suffered from a once-common medical diagnosis known as 'female hysteria'. One Dr. Robert Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce) finds a way to treat them and that is by conducting long massages of the lower abdomen. In desperation for assistance due to the rising number of patients, Dr. Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) is taken in, without any experience or knowledge in such ailment. Not long after, Dr. Granville suffers from hand cramps and with the help of his best friend, Edmund St. John-Smythe (Rupert Everett), who happens to be an inventor, comes up with a machine that revolutionizes women's sexuality that is famously known today as THE vibrator.
Albeit some scenes that would leave your face in a flush, the film actually turns out to be more prim than provoking. Its depiction of women's empowerment and the beginning of man's irrelevance somewhat reminds you of something you've read from a Jane Austen book. Despite being categorized as a romantic comedy, the film fails to capture the chemistry that initially happened between Dr. Granville and the demure Emily Dalrymple (Felicity Jones), and the later spark of romance that occurs with the more expressive Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal). It's a no surprise for movie goers who have familiarized themselves with Gyllenhaal to see her playing the feminist; something which each and every role handed out to her in all of her films have in common.
As the settings are made in London, it is understandable that each cast has to portray the quintessential English character. Gyllenhaal, however, seems to be in a lot of struggles in keeping up with that, accent and all. As much as the film wishes to promote women's lib (if it ever intends to), Charlotte's speech in the courtroom somehow sounds more of an obnoxious monologue one usually sees at those pretentious plays. It does no effect to the reviewer and the reviewer highly doubts if it does much to inspire viewers, particularly to women. On the other hand, it is quite refreshing to learn how our great grandparents used to react to the breakthrough of one of the greatest invention in the world, the pelvic massager or better known as (ehem!) the vibrator.
To conclude it all, "Hysteria" offers some intelligent jokes that may be entertaining, and somewhat be in comparison to the well-known "Vagina Monologues". However, there wouldn't be that much of a consequence if you give this film a miss.Cinema Online, 09 July 2012