Movies » Film

Hysteria

by

comment

Wow, whad'ya know, another Def Leppard-title-borrowing rock musical — one about the invention of the vibrator.

Oh, wait. Those songs were just in my head.

Hysteria is, in fact, a markedly unmusical 2011 Maggie Gyllenhaal leftover that's slightly more entertaining than a case of vulvodynia. It would take an all-Stones score to make this horrid little thing even 10 percent more watchable.

Director Tanya Wexler's overstarched version of British orgasm history makes a petticoated feint toward a lesson in women's rights, but Stephen Dyer and Jonah Lisa Dyer's screenplay is about as feminist as the last two minutes of An Officer and a Gentleman. It's the kind of movie in which a frigid woman complains that the title affliction has rendered her unable to sing and later bursts into an aria when Hugh Dancy's idealistic doctor works her clit just so. (Surely there's an outtake in which the sound of her ecstasy shatters a crystal goblet.)

Dancy, Jonathan Pryce and Felicity Jones wince through the proceedings, while Gyllenhaal distracts herself by delivering many lines with a not-very-Masterpiece Theatre giggle. Maybe she was thinking of her co-star Rupert Everett, who has sense enough to play the device's inadvertent inventor pretty much as himself.

Add a comment