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4.3 out of 5 stars 301 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In an age of invention, one man set out to find a medical cure for what ailed women…and accidentally electrified our love lives forever. HYSTERIA is a lighthearted romantic comedy that tells the surprising story of the birth of the electro-mechanical vibrator at the very peak of Victorian prudishness. Academy Award® nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal (Best Supporting Actress, CRAZY HEART, 2009) and Hugh Dancy (ADAM, CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC) lead an accomplished cast in this untold tale of discovery.


What do women want? Well, science may debate that for years, but Hysteria provides a very entertaining answer in the form of a historical romp through early psychology. Based on the story of a young British doctor who essentially invented the first vibrator, Hysteria handles its offbeat subject matter lightly and amusingly. And its cast is splendid. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Felicity Jones play Victorian-era sisters, Charlotte and Emily, daughters of the prominent physician Dr. Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce). Into their lives comes an ambitious, thoughtful young doctor, Mortimer Granville (played by the dreamy Hugh Dancy). Dr. Granville's life work has become focused on women's issues, including the all-encompassing diagnosis "hysteria," for which he is experimenting with therapeutic "pelvic massage" treatments. When he comes to Dr. Dalrymple for mentoring and approval of his rather unorthodox treatments, the doctor's two daughters vie for his romantic affections. In lesser hands, this film could have been a Victorian-era 40-Year-Old Virgin or The (Sexual) Hangover, but director Tanya Wexler keeps the action crisp, light, and focused. Hysteria is a great date movie or a splendid escape for history, and hysteria, lovers. --A.T. Hurley

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hugh Dancy
  • Directors: Tanya Wexler
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
  • DVD Release Date: September 18, 2012
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (301 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B008220A62
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,391 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Hysteria" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
"Hysteria" (95 min.) brings the highly unlikely (but we are reminded at the beginning of the film that "This movie is based on true events. Really.") story of a young doctor Dr. Mortimer Granville (played by Hugh Dancy) in London, 1880, who is struggling but eventually finds a job with Dr. Robert Dalrymple (played brillantly by Jonathan Pryce) who is treating women for the so-called hysteria disease, really a catch-all for any and all things supposedly wrong with women in those days. The treatment is nothing else but to touch these women's private parts until they reach "paroxysmal convulsions" (wink, wink). The young doctor along with his buddy eventually come up with a mechanical device, which became the vibrator (still the number one sex toy in the world today, we are reminded at the end of the movie).

But the movie in fact is much more about Granville's romantic interplay with the 2 daughters of Dalrymple, Emily (played by Felicity Jones), who is "daddy's girl" and to whom Granville gets engaged, and Charlotte (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal), the "rebel" daughter who has set up a social center to help the poor. I don't want to give away much more from the plot, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Maggie Gyllenhall really shines in this movie. I couldn't help but think how much she reminded me of Diane Keaton in her late 70s performances (think Annie Hall). That aside, this movie is a pleasant romcom, nothing more, nothing less. And no, not an "important movie" about women's empowerment as some other reviews here (who obviously did not see the movie) are suggesting.
1 Comment 60 of 62 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
When, some time ago, I'd heard that Maggie Gyllenhaal was making a movie about the invention of the vibrator, I was excited. I mean, I love Maggie and I love vibrators so what more could I ask for in the way of entertainment? But time went by and I heard nothing about it. I'd almost forgotten it completely when, checking out the new offerings on Amazon (because as I've told you repeatedly for months now, NETFLIX SUCKS), there it was! Yippee!

I had fresh coffee, a French toast bagel with honey walnut cream cheese and a movie about vibrators. A near-perfect Saturday morning.

Honestly, I expected the movie to be interesting, perhaps even enlightening in an indie film kinda way, considered that it apparently got so little press I wasn't even aware it had opened. But what i got was a delighful little movie that had me chuckling and laughing out loud. Considering the subject, it gives the term "a feel-good movie" a whole new meaning.

Even better, the basic facts of the movie are true.

In England of the 1890's -- the height of Victorian prudery, where furniture was draped with heavy fabric to prevent the scandalous sight of carved table "legs" giving rise to lascivious thoughts -- the average doctor killed more patients than he saved. Medicine was still medieval, and leeching was still being prescribed even for broken bones.

Mortimer Granville, a young doctor who eagerly embraces all the cutting-edge research of the day, finds himself discharged from one hospital after another for his strange new ideas about "germs" and hand washing. In desperation, he ends up at the door of Dr. Dalrymple, who is eager for help in his thriving and lucrative practice treating "female hysteria.
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3 Comments 51 of 57 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
Yes, Hysteria really is about the invention of the vibrator in Victorian England. And in my opinion it is adorable. Not everyone's cup of tea I realize. If the subject matter makes you a little uncomfortable, then give this one a pass. I can certainly see that certain conservatives would not be amused by this premise.

If however you find it amusing that someone made a romantic comedy about...well...you know what... then you will have a lovely light evening with lots of laughs.
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Format: Amazon Video
A deliciously fun treatment based (loosely) on the true story of the invention of the personal vibrator.

Dr. Mortimer Granville, a young, inspiring doctor is fired from many jobs in London hospitals due to his firm belief in Germ Theory - the idea that infections were caused by germs. Not being a popular theory at the time, he was terminated repeatedly by the "solid Victorian medical foundation" for believing in "quackery."

The only job he can find is with a private practice that prevalently deals with women in the grips of "Hysteria" - a quaint, Victorian term for women that are in essence, sex-starved. The treatment? To manually stimulate women with hand massaging until orgasm, thereby relieving the tension and associated emotional stress that comes with the condition. Since this is definitely a temporary relief, obviously the young and attractive doctor soon finds himself overrun with current and new patients leading to the development of a unique form of handstrain! Most certainly, alternative forms of stimulation for women need to be found to keep up.

Heaped on top is his employer, who with two daughters is pushing his "proper" one toward our protagonist for marriage, while the wild, wooly socially unacceptable daughter is the one who actually attracts him.

A comedic, fun historical piece that romps through the bedroom without being dirty or crass and handles delicate subjects beautifully without being dull or "prim." Definitely not for the kiddies (simply for the subject matter instead of any particular scene/situation; I don't think there was one even partially nude scene) but enough fun for adults on a Friday night to snuggle with popcorn and wine to enjoy.
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