Fetish Films: Hysteria
The Fetish Films section on my blog was originally intended to be a place where I’d comment on films that involved fetishisation or kink. I had a few films lined up to do, but lacked the motivation to actually get on with doing them as it would mean a close watching of the film and making notes rather than just enjoying it. However, with the release of Hysteria into UK cinemas I had the chance to see something I hadn’t before and since it is about vibrators I decided to post about it.
Warning: SPOILERS ahead!
Rating: ★★★☆☆ 3/5
I persuaded Daddy to watch this film with me because we were missing out on our usual fetish night and I wanted to do something fun. I was lucky that he agreed, because he doesn’t really like romantic comedies in general and it was unlikely that I’d get to see it otherwise. We went to see it and were met with an empty cinema theatre which was both disappointing and exciting for me. Disappointing because I was hoping this film would get more exposure but exciting because it felt like a private show. Of course, before the film actually started, four more people entered, but they were all women. Daddy was the only guy there; a fact that did not escape either of us.
I found it interesting that there were so few people seeing it and particularly that there were no men. I suppose rom-coms aren’t a bloke thing but surely some women would convince their boyfriends to come with them? Apparently not. Or perhaps we saw it at the wrong time.
There was a lot that annoyed me about this film. For one, the language used in the film isn’t fully Victorian; at one point the main character Mortimer Granville (played by Hugh Dancy) calls an older man a dinosaur under his breath. This was amusing but distracting for me. I didn’t see the point in making the film less authentic, since the audience would be able to pick up on context if they’d gone for something more accurate. The clothing and sets were wonderfully Victorian though, so it was lovely to see just for that.
For some reason I also got the impression that Maggie Gyllenhaal was going to have a more main role than she ended up with. She is one of the large reasons I saw this film, because I had seen her in Secretary and loved her. Her character was not at all what I had expected from the promotional material and I don’t know whether that is a good or a bad thing.
Luckily, her character became more important and interesting as the film went on. I would have been disappointed if she had continued being in the background instead, as I think Maggie is a great actress and want to see more of her in weird and sexual films. …But please spare me from having her in the 50 Shades trilogy. She is a much better actress than that.
Though there were things I disliked, there were also some good parts to this film. In particular, there were a few scenes that made Daddy and I laugh as well as some good quotes. Here are a few I liked:
The proposal scene between Mortimer and Emily was embarrassingly awkward which is what made it fun. You can tell from their reactions that they’re only doing it to make her father happy.
The way that the vibrator idea is discovered amused me as well, because Mortimer was playing with his friend’s invention when it came to him.It was supposed to start a cleaning revolution, but instead ended up being used for a different type of revolution entirely!
Another particularly good part is watching the Queen of England get her vibrator and start to use it. Everyone in the cinema laughed at what happened – you’ll have to watch it yourself to see!
The credits section of this film was pretty cool; featuring various vibrators through history with their dates of creation. This section particularly caused discussion between the cinema-goers, as I heard the women behind us trying to figure out what certain ones were. It was difficult not to turn around and inform them of everything I knew!
If you’re looking for a serious and historically accurate film about hysteria in Victorian times, this film is not for you. It’s a silly rom-com that uses the history as a selling point. It is not, in fact, a true story, though the film’s summary would have you believe otherwise:
“The truth of how Mortimer Granville devised the invention of the first vibrator in the name of medical science.”
As expected, the lovely Ness (of Notes From The Nymphomaniac Ness) did some research around the history of the vibrator and hysteria and found that the majority of this film is a lie. You should check her blog for more information.
If you want to see Hysteria in cinemas, you only have until the 11th of October to do so! If you miss out, you’ll have to wait until after Christmas for your chance to buy it on Blu-Ray or DVD.