Not a bad film, and not a great film
, 21 Nov 2013
In 1880s London an ambitious doctor called Mortimer Granville gets a job with Dr Dalrymple, who has the unique skill of relieving his female patients frustrations with pelvic massaging. Building on this concept, Granville turns a feather duster into an instrument of pleasure, essentially creating the worlds first vibrator. Its pretty unusual that a film is based entirely around the creation of the vibrator, but we are talking about quite possibly THE most popular sex-toy in the world. The story is actually quite an interesting one, albeit an amusing one. How director Tanya Wexler chose to tell the story would determine the success of the movie. Maybe its because shes a woman, but Wexler has ended up telling the story exactly as it needed to be told with tongue firmly in cheek. Using Stephen and Jonah Lisa Dyers solid script, Wexler has crafted a light-hearted and amusing piece of cinema that understands the joke and doesnt try to shy away from it. Its because the film has such a tongue-in-cheek nature that the inclusion of a love triangle irks me a little bit. Perhaps the tale of the two sisters vying for Granvilles (Hugh Dancy) heart is a part of the true story, but it feels very forced, as if put in there to make it more cinematic. It takes away from the main story as a result, lessening its appeal. The silver lining of the love triangle, though, is that it allows us to get some very good performances from Felicity Jones and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Jones and Dancy are good in their roles, theres no argument there, but Gyllenhaal is the MVP of the film. Doing an incredibly realistic London accent, she steals the show as the rebellious and impulsive Charlotte Dalrymple, more interested in womens rights than the honour and respect of her family. This is in contrast to sister Emily (Jones), who is the perfect English rose, but a tad boring. It doesnt take a rocket scientist to work out who Granville chooses in the end, but atleast we get some good acting out of it. Hysteria pretty much stayed under the radar on its release, and its easy to see why. It doesnt break any major boundaries, and doesnt boast any fantastic performances or memorable moments. Its just a very sweet, albeit slightly cheeky, film that could be better and could be worse. A film you could watch on a quiet night in.
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