Hysteria – Movie Review

Bee has been travelling almost every week we haven’t had time to meet lately. Lunch on Thursday was a quick one and so we decided to catch a movie on Friday night. Aaron had NCC until 10.30pm, and visiting sister had her own reunion, Andreas had work, Mike had JC reunion – so I was free for the evening.

One thing about Bee if you know her well enough is, she likes to disagree with everything I say, but when it comes to food and movie, she is very agreeable to whatever I suggest. That’s how we remain friends, I guess.

Hysteria was quite highly reviewed in Straits Times Life! I thought I should catch it. Touted as a romantic comedy, its central theme is how the vibrator was invented, thus liberating women during that era in the 1800’s and even now (nope, I don’t have one…yet :)).

Hugh Dancy as Dr Granville is an earnest doctor trying to change the treatment in hospitals but stressing on germs and hygiene. Germs is not discovered yet and a concept foreign to most doctors except to the widely read. He is dismissed for his ideology and found a job assisting a doctor with treating women with ‘Hysteria‘. (Excerpts from Wikipedia states:

Female hysteria was a once-common medical diagnosis, made exclusively in women, which is today no longer recognized by modern medical authorities as a medical disorder. Its diagnosis and treatment were routine for many hundreds of years in Western Europe. Hysteria was widely discussed in the medical literature of the 19th century. Women considered to be suffering from it exhibited a wide array of symptoms including faintness, nervousness, sexual desire, insomnia, fluid retention, heaviness in abdomen, muscle spasm, shortness of breath, irritability, loss of appetite for food or sex, and “a tendency to cause trouble”.

Since ancient times women considered to be suffering from hysteria would sometimes undergo “pelvic massage” — manual stimulations of the genitals by the doctor until the patient experienced “hysterical paroxysm” (orgasm).)

The young Dr Granville is so popular that his appointment book is always full. His employer offers him partnership, with the hope that he will eventually take over the practice by marrying his younger daughter Emily. Alas, the treatments take a toll on Dr Granville’s hand/palm/fingers and his patients cannot achieve satisfaction even after an hour and he is thus dismissed. Meanwhile, he is distracted and criticised by elder daughter Charlotte, who runs a shelter for the poor, for not putting his skill to better use and instead chooses to treat bored housewives who suffers from lack of or not enough satisfaction during lovemaking.

His friend, Edmund, an inventor who is inventing a motorised dustor when Dr Granville discovers its soothing massage on his own hand and thus decides to use it to treat the women in the clinic. It is highly successful – three paroxysm in five minutes. Thus the vibrator is born.

Oh yes! Charlotte is arrested for assaulting a policeman while trying to protect her shelter and Dr Granville is asked to confirm the diagnosis that she is suffering from severe hysteria and must be locked in a mental hospital. He disagrees with the diagnosis and she is put in jail for four months, whereupon at her release, he is there at the prison gate with a ring.

Bee and I thoroughly enjoy the movie. There are witty exchanges between the leads, plus the hilarious facial display of satisfaction from the female patients during treatment provides most of the laughs.

The ending shows the evolution of the vibrators through the years, with equally funny names.


About vickychong

Just an ordinary woman.
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