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Hysteria Blu-ray Review

Despite memorable performances, “Hysteria” plays it too safe.

Set in Victorian era England, the based on a true story film “Hysteria” focuses on how Dr. Mortimer Granville came to invent the vibrator as a means to help women’s “hysteria” issue. The film begins with Granville struggling to find work before he gets a job with Dr. Robert Dalrymple to help “relieve” women with hysteria (translation: induce orgasms). At the same time, Granville begins to develop feelings for BOTH of Dalrymple’s daughters (the spirited Charlotte and the prim and proper Emily). After Granville’s hand becomes “unfit for duty,” he is fired by Dr. Dalrymple. It is in this jobless phase that Granville comes up with the idea for the vibrator that not only changes his life, but countless women’s lives across the world.

You’d think the premise of the invention of the vibrator would be an interesting and risqué one to explore cinematically, but unfortunately, the material is mishandled in the screenplay written by Jonah Lisa Dyer, Stephen Dyer and Howard Gensler. Rather than seriously (or even flat-out comedically) tackle this subject matter, the screenwriters seem more smitten with the idea of fixating on the romance between Charlotte and Granville and themes of sexual liberation. There’s nothing wrong with either of these ideas mind you, but when it’s all said and done, the vibrator angle turns out to be rather watered down. I understand that the writers were eager too please mass audiences by giving it a rather accessible tone, but by shying away from the subject matter and making the film too safe, “Hysteria” becomes less interesting (and tonally awkward to boot). Essentially, the movie feels like a teaser trailer in that it claims to be about one thing, but is really more about another.

Despite the screenplay failures, however, “Hysteria” still manages to partially work thanks to a great ensemble cast that includes such talented folks as Hugh Dancy, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jonathan Pryce, Felicity Jones, Rupert Everett, and Sheridan Smith. Rising star Hugh Dancy is particularly good as the main character Dr. Mortimer Granville as is Rupert Everett who plays the sarcastic, rich co-inventor Lord Edmund St. John-Smythe.

Summary: “Hysteria” is a flawed film to be sure, but the performances make it worth a watch at least.

Video/Audio:

The film, which is presented in 2.35:1 1080p, looks sharp in hi-def. The costumes, sets, and snowy shots are particularly pleasing to the eye.

“Hysteria” is not the most audio centric movie, but the dialogue and music sound as good as can be with the 5.1 DTS-HD audio track.

Extras:
* Sony trailers and a “Hysteria” theatrical trailer.
* 4 deleted scenes.
* “An Evening With Tanya Wexler, Hugh Dancy and Jonathan Pryce”- A Q&A with the 2 actors and the director from the Tribeca Film Festival.
* “Hysteria: Behind The Scenes”- A standard featurette with set footage and cast and crew interviews. Discussions of the story and the hysteria “condition” are included.
* “Passion And Power: The Technology Of Orgasm”- Excerpts from the documentary film.
* A passionate commentary by director Tanya Wexler. She talks about everything from how the film came about to the sets.

September 25, 2012 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , ,

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