Directed by Tanya Wexler, Hysteria tells an untold tale of discovery – the surprising story of the birth of the electro-mechanical vibrator at the very peak of Victorian prudishness.
Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy), a dedicated and forward-thinking young doctor, is struggling to establish his career when he meets Dr. Robert Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce), London’s leading specialist in women’s medicine. Dalrymple’s waiting room is overflowing with well-dressed women suffering from “hysteria.” Fortunately, Dalrymple’s treatments are so successful that “another pair of hands” is his urgent need. Granville is hired on the spot.
Granville’s improved lot in life makes him a worthy suitor for Dalrymple’s daughter Emily (Felicity Jones), whom Granville considers “the epitome of English virtue and womanliness”. As dutiful and proper a daughter as is Emily, her elder sister Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is the opposite: she’s a firebrand social reformer, arguing passionately for women’s rights to be educated, vote, and live independent lives unshackled by domestic drudgery.
Just as Granville’s life seems to be settling into prosperity and security, engaged to Emily with the prospect of partnership in Dalrymple’s lucrative practice, his hopes are dashed by an affliction of his own: hand cramps.
This is the story of how one of the first electrical appliances in history to earn a patent sent sparks flying between a cautious man and a liberated woman, brought together by the wonders of friction.
In cinemas September.
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