Hysteria contains all the elements of a compelling love story — humor, intelligence, physical beauty — with one key exception: passion. And without the romance, Hysteria offers viewers a good ride, but little to fall in love with.
Victorian London is the ideal setting for a romance: elegant estates, carriage rides, ornate gowns, and most importantly, gentlemen outfitted with suits, manners, bottomless bank accounts, education, and English accents. Hugh Dancy provides plenty to swoon over as Mortimer Granville, the handsome, young doctor struggling to help the indigent. After being rejected by the medical community for his wacky ideas on germs, Granville accepts a position under Dr. Robert Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce), London's leading expert on hysteria. Like PMS, hysteria was a catchall explanation for any erratic emotional issue experienced by women.
Granville instantly becomes popular with the wealthy housewives he “treats.” Soon he is in line to inherit the practice and to wed Dalrymple’s refined daughter, Emily (Felicity Jones). Enter Dalrymple's rebellious daughter, Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhall), who, like any good female lead in a romance, lives by her own rules. Granville’s ideal life falls into jeopardy when his hand becomes overworked from treating hysteria. With help from his eccentric friend, Edmund (Rupert Everett), the two men invent the first vibrator.
Much of Hysteria's humor derives from juxtaposing animated orgasms with London's prim and proper, upper-class. The best example of this comes when the three leading men wear goggles to test their electric vibrator on a plump, opera singer. Similarly, the rogue side characters, like a prostitute turned maid (Sheridan Smith), provide comic relief to the uptight doctors who are oblivious to the fact that their clinic is simply a brothel for wealthy housewives.
Unfortunately, Granville never unbuttons his three-piece suit and gets swept away in the heat of passion. Despite the film's R rating, most of the physical displays of affection are as sterile and awkward as Granville's high-class hand-jobs. The only clue we get to why Granville is attracted to Charlotte comes when she wears a backless gown, revealing more skin than we see all film. Other than that, we are left to assume that Granville is destined to marry Charlotte because her character is played by Maggie Gyllenhall — a far more famous, though far less attractive, actress than Felicity Jones.
Granville and Charlotte's romantic connection is so underdeveloped that by film's end, it would not be a surprise if either character interrupted the climatic confession of love to say, "Oh, I'm terribly sorry, but I thought you knew. I'm a homosexual." Both characters have far more physical chemistry with their uninhibited, same-sex friends than they do with each other.
Like a dating site that makes matches based on checklists, Hysteria delivers many of the elements needed for a touching romance, but, in the end, there is no magic to make audiences fall in love.
After seeing the "new Superman" I thought it was alright but, I kind of hoped…
Gerwig is so awesome all-around. Would love to give her hugs and be friends. :)
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Cant wait to watch it!