movies: hysteria

hysteria - a comedy about the birth of the vibrator in victorian england.
There's a type of movie that the English almost always get exactly pitch perfect... Kinky Boots was one, as was Miss Pettigrew... and I have to say that Hysteria is a very worthy addition to that list.

I honestly think that the last time I laughed out loud so much during a movie was in The Producers. In fact there's one scene around the middle of the movie where I actually ended up slumped to one side because I was laughing so much.

Sure, it's a little bit of a by-the-book romantic/screwball comedy (I've been watching a number of old screwball comedies of late, and I'd actually say that it leans more towards that kind of idea than your traditional romantic comedy)... and you can actually see more or less how all the pieces are going to come together from the start... but the journey itself is well worth taking.

And I think one of the early descriptions of it I read pretty much sums it up:

Yes, this film is about the invention of the first vibrator. Sure, it sounds risqué, but not to worry, we promise you this film is nothing but wholesome fun! Witty and entertaining, Hysteria will not only amuse, but also educate you on how this very popular device was created.

It's a decidedly cheeky movie (to use a very English description... it's not dirty, but it is a little bit impudent and saucy at times).

There are also times when it almost feels like there are two movies butting up against each other... the total comedy around the invention of the vibrator and a drama about a woman trying to make a difference in the lives of people less fortunate than herself. For the most part the two storylines are easy bedfellows, although on occasion there are some quite swift changes in tone, but nothing that brings the movie to a screeching halt.

And I don't know what it is about handsome young gentlemen in Victorian attire... but there's something about those high starched collars and waistcoats that I find terribly appealing... especially on a gentleman like Mr Hugh Dancy... who also does a brilliant job as the central character, Dr Granville.

His performance really does remind me of some of those old screwball comedy stars. In a good way.

Maggie Gyllenhaal is more than his match, and as with her performance in Stranger Than Fiction, she never shies away from playing a strong, free spirited woman who does things because she knows they're right, rather than what society tells her she should be doing.

The supporting cast has a number of familiar English faces, including Rupert Everett who appears to just be having a whale of a time and chewing on any bit of scenery he can get his hands on (and is it me, or has he had "work done"... there were a couple of scenes where he didn't look quite right).

It's definitely one of the funniest movies I've seen in a while, and although it's occasionally a little bit cheeky, it's still something you could take your grandmother to.

So a big thank you to Sebastian and all the folk from Hopscotch for providing the opportunity (and the free passes) for me to see it.

yani's rating: 4 Jolly Mollys out of 5

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