It stands to reason that women in Victorian England weren’t active parts of the lovemaking process. Oh, they were in the vicinity; they just weren’t supposed to do much but lay there. Around 1880, medical science and sexuality merged in treatments for hysteria, which were essentially doctor-assisted masturbation sessions for women. This bizarre bit of history was covered in the Tony-nominated play In the Next Room a couple of years ago, and now it gets the film treatment in Hysteria, starring Hugh Dancy as the young doctor whose hands are so overworked by the practice that he invents the vibrator. More or less, it’s a true story. Tanya Wexler’s film is wry and knowing; although the action takes place 125 years ago, its sensibilities smartly let modern audiences in on the joke of how absurd “female hysteria” is.
Director: Tanya Wexler
Producer: Sarah Curtis, Judy Cairo, Tracey Becker, Michael Simpsons, Eric Brenner, Ken Atchity, Sandra Siegel, Leo Joseph, Nathalie Joseph, Mark Kress, Hakan Kousetta, Claudia Blumhuber, Florian Dargel, Peter Fudakowski and Stephen Dyer
Cast: Hugh Dancy, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jonathan Pryce, Felicity Jones, Rupert Everett, Sheridan Smith, Kim Criswell, Elisabet Johannesdottir, Ashley Jensen, Gemma Jones, Anna Chancellor, Malcolm Rennie and Georgie Glen