A plea­sur­able ex­pe­ri­ence

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Movies - NEALA JOHN­SON Now show­ing State Cinema

HYS­TE­RIA (M)

★★★★■

Di­rec­tor: Tanya Wexler

( Rel­a­tive Evil ) Stars: Mag­gie Gyl­len­haal, Hugh Dancy, Jonathan Pryce, Fe­lic­ity Jones, Ru­pert Everett A com­i­cal mal­ady for the ladies

A RO­MAN­TIC com­edy about the in­ven­tion of the vi­bra­tor. How does that work? As the sat­is­fied ladies of Hys­te­ria might tell you, very well in­deed.

In 1880s Lon­don, leeches are the height of med­i­cal prac­tice and, as one grey­ing doc­tor gruffly tells the young, for­ward­think­ing Dr Mortimer Granville ( Hugh Dancy), ‘‘ germ the­ory is pop­py­cock!’’

On the out with the staid es­tab­lish­ment, Dr Granville takes a job with Dr Dal­rym­ple ( Jonathan Pryce), who spe­cialises in the treat­ment of hys­te­ria.

His method? Mas­sag­ing his fe­male clients un­til they find re­lief through ‘‘ parox­ysms’’. You know what we’re say­ing, right?

‘‘ Half the women in Lon­don are af­fected,’’ Dr Dal­rym­ple ex­plains to his new as­sis­tant.

Mod­ern minds will scoff ( the film does a good job of min­ing Vic­to­rian- era prac­tices for hu­mour) and are well rep­re­sented on screen by Dr Dal­rym­ple’s lively daugh­ter Char­lotte ( a beam­ing Mag­gie Gyl­len­haal), who brings shame on her fam­ily by sup­port­ing pros­ti­tutes, poor chil­dren and the suf­fragette move­ment.

Char­lotte knows most of her fa­ther’s pa­tients aren’t ill – they’re just un­der- served by their use­less hus­bands.

‘‘ Isn’t she a Chi­nese fire­cracker,’’ ob­serves Granville’s best friend Ed­mund upon meet­ing the maiden.

A rich layabout who dab­bles in mod­ern tech­nol­ogy, Ed­mund is one of the first in Lon­don to have a tele­phone.

In Ru­pert Everett’s ca­pa­ble hands, he’s also de­light­fully dry and de­liv­ers all the film’s best one- lin­ers.

Oh, and Ed­mund is work­ing on an elec­tric feather duster, an in­ven­tion which may just find an­other use. You can see where this is go­ing, right?

Yet even as Hys­te­ria lays its steps out be­fore you, it loses none of its fun or spice.

Di­rec­tor Tanya Wexler has dubbed her work ‘‘ the vi­bra­tor movie you can take your mum to’’. In­deed, she works her way around the ‘‘ mas­sag­ing’’ scenes with enough forthright­ness and sen­si­tiv­ity that the Best Ex­otic Marigold Ho­tel crowd will nei­ther be bored nor scared off. And the su­perb cast hit all the right beats to keep the tale mov­ing.

A thor­oughly plea­sur­able ex­pe­ri­ence.

FUN AND SPICE: ( top) Mag­gie Gyl­len­haal and Hugh Dancy, with ( above) Ru­pert Everett, who de­liv­ers all the best one- lin­ers.

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