Directed By: Tanya Wexler

Starring: Felicity Jones, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hugh Dancy, Jonathan Pryce, and Rupert Everett

Before we arrived at the medical and scientific knowledge we have today, many doctors were educated fools.  You wouldn't believe what some of them thought back in the day.  Many completely disregarded science and ignored life-changing discoveries from the research of a few.  They didn't believe germs existed and fostered situations in which they hurt their patients far more than they actually helped them.  They even completely disregarded women's medical issues and diagnosed most with an all-inclusive affliction known as hysteria. 

That's not the whole story though.  Women diagnosed with hysteria were given a treatment whereby their doctor would massage their genitals to induce paroxysm.  Basically, doctors were fingering their female patients and inducing orgasms so that their patients could cope with their “disease”.  At the end of the work day, some doctors had to have some tired hands.  After all, they were pleasuring their patients all day long with them.  Tanya Wexler's Hysteria focuses on the invention of sex toys and a way to give some doctors time to rest their hands.

After being fired from his previous job, Dr. Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy, takes a role as an assistant to Dr. Robert Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce).  Dalrymple's practice centers on treating women afflicted with hysteria.  Dalrymple just doesn't have the time to treat his growing list of clientele and he needs someone young and able-bodied like Granville to join his practice.  Granville moves into the Dalrymple home and starts treating hysterical women immediately.  The physical stress of inducing paroxysm for so many women takes a toll on his right hand to the extent that he can no longer treat his patients.  While visiting his wealthy friend Lord Edmund St. John-Smythe (Rupert Everett), he comes across one of Edmund's gadgets, an electric feather duster and sees the answer to all his problems.

Granville meets Dalrymple's daughter, the positively angelic Emily (Felicity Jones), and learns of her many skills in music, philosophy, and phrenology.  He's immediately enamored with her, and Dalrymple arranges a marriage between the two.  Granville also meets Dalrymple's older daughter Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who suffers from hysteria.  He sees that she often shouts and is a highly emotional creature.  She's impossibly vexing yet immensely alluring.  She clashes frequently with her father.  As Granville gets to know Charlotte better, his relationship with her father is strained.

Hysteria is supposed to be a quirky comedy about sex toys.  That's a comedic gold mine.  Nonetheless, the movie has a slow start.  There are a lot of bad jokes that don't kick off the film with the right tone.  Because of this, it takes a little while to get into this British romantic comedy.  When Dalrymple and Granville start treating hysterical women though, the comedy comes.

Once Hysteria finds its rhythm, it keeps the laughs coming as much as the patients are kept "happy".  Director Tanya Wexler does a good job of maintaining a fun, relaxed tone throughout most of the film.  The cast has some great chemistry, particularly Hugh Dancy and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Whether discovering the sensual marvels of a feather duster, awkwardly observing ducks having intercourse, or lathering up with oil to pleasure the well-to-do women of the city, Wexler and her stars do a good job of turning this flick into a fun romp.
Hysteria is an enjoyable, charming little film, but it does have its flaws.  The movie's slow start leaves a lingering disinterest behind until we get our first paroxysm.  Hysteria gets a 0.06% rating.  Have a couple of glasses of Sauvignon Blanc with this one.