Trending
MOST READ
Easy Green: 10 quick ways to make money in college

Easy Green: 10 quick ways to make money in college

College Issue 2014: Sell clothes. Plato’s Closet is a great place to take your gently worn apparel in exchange for cold, hard cash. They accept clothes, shoes and... By Brittany Minor 8/18/2014
SAPD Issues Thousands of Tickets for Homelessness

SAPD Issues Thousands of Tickets for Homelessness

News: Data and records obtained by the Current show that between January 1, 2013, and early October of this year the San Antonio... By Alexa Garcia-Ditta and Elaine Wolff 10/22/2014
Alamo Ice House Brings Hill Country to Downtown

Alamo Ice House Brings Hill Country to Downtown

Food & Drink: There was a special kind of draw at Alamo Ice House on a recent Tuesday evening. A handful of weeks after opening its... By Jessica Elizarraras 10/22/2014
6 Sinfully Good Grilled Cheese Sandwiches in SA

6 Sinfully Good Grilled Cheese Sandwiches in SA

Food & Drink: Cheesy Jane’s. Multiple locations, cheesyjanes.com. If the name is any indicator, this San Antonio staple doesn’t mess around when it comes to... By Tommie Ethington 10/22/2014

Best Local Artist

Best of SA 2013: 4/24/2013
Calendar

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email

Screens & Tech

Vibrator-focused rom-com 'Hysteria' pushes all the wrong buttons

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo


Director Tanya Wexler’s Hysteria, a rom-com historical revision set in late-19th century London about the invention of the vibrator, actually does a great service to its male audience: It allows us to experience a fraction of the intense frustration felt so strongly by the women of that era, enough though it was even given a bogus pseudo-scientific diagnosis: hysteria.

According to this thoroughly unsatisfying tale (co-written by three men), the so-called hysteria, said at the time to afflict nearly a quarter of the city’s female population, was simply an excuse for wealthy widows to let a doctor get them off while they go googly-eyed and sing opera. But what of the poor doctor’s tired hand? Such is the paper-thin, insulting dilemma facing Dr. Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy), a handsome young man hired exclusively to masturbate the grateful clients of Dr. Robert Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce). He’s promptly set up with Dalrymple’s prim daughter, Emily, with the promise of taking over the patriarch’s estate practice.

When Granville’s carpel tunnel gets him fired and, presumably, ousted from Emily’s future, he teams up with an inventor pal (Rupert Everett) who believes he has an electric solution to Granville’s manual problem. And so the vibrator was born.

But wait — that can’t be the whole movie, can it? Of course not! For practically no reason at all, the newly famous, re-hired and re-engaged Granville decides he’s in love with Emily’s shrew of a sister, Charlotte (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal with the giddy freedom that comes from a great actor knowing full well they’ve signed on to a stinker). Unlike the virtuous Emily, Charlotte is seen by her family as a wild card. Why? Oh, she’s always going on about “charity” this and “equality” that. Silly girl.

Does Granville realize he’s helped create an inherently liberating product and that’s why he’s drawn to Charlotte? Maybe he knows deep down that his specialty is bologna and hopes this other sister might help open his mind? Whatever the case, this movie isn’t interested in anything but rudimentary romance and an ill-fitting, peppy tone out of step with its subject — a shameful historical footnote in which women were locked up, violated and driven to breakdowns, as in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper. (Thanks, American Horror Story!).

Making matters worse, Hysteria insists on cramming as many painfully obvious winks to the modern audience as possible: Charlotte only gives Granville the time of day when he says he’s in favor of hand-washing (OK, that actually was a hotly contested idea at the time), and one character wonders aloud whether telephones will catch on. (Total bullshit.)

By the time Hysteria devolves into an absurd courtroom climax, it’s clear that it’s far too late to hope for satisfaction.

★★ (out of 5 stars)

Hysteria

Dir. Tanya Wexler; writ. Stephen  Dyer, Jonah Lisa Dyer, Howard Gensler; feat. Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hugh Dancy, and Jonathan Pryce, Rupert Everett  (PG-13)

Recently in Screens & Tech
We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus