Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Hysteria, dir. Tanya Wexler, wr. Jonah Lisa Dyer, Stephen Dyer, Howard Gensler, st. Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hugh Dancy, Felicity Jones

Disillusioned at the state of the health service, an archaic institution that blood-lets and butchers, whose general managers prefer to prescribe the latest faddy cure-all tincture rather than heed the call of molecular science and virology, Mortimer Granville (Dancy) procures a job aiding Dr. Robert Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce), a physician successful in the treatment of female 'hysteria', a condition comprising pretty much every human trait imaginable from nervousness to depression.  Before long, Granville's getting RSI from masturbating an increasingly engorged waiting-room of female patients. Pitched somewhere between some play you'd stumble into after  night at the Student Union and and a good ol' Curtisy rom-com, Wexler's story never manages to get to grips with either her characters or the wayward plotting, although the uninhibited double-entendres, Rupert Everett's wry turn as Mortimer's Algernon-like housemate Lord Edmund St. John-Smythe, and Gyllenhaal's fiery portrayal of Dr. Robert's altruistic daughter Charlotte, amuse and impress. Flaccid structuring aside, this is light, frothy stuff, a low-calorie, period comedy that successfully explores one of the more wacky idiosyncrasies of Victorian England.