For anyone who didn't already know, I am a huge fan of Maggie Gyllenhaal. I think she is one of the sexiest women currently in Hollywood and a wonderful talent. I should probably turn that around and mention the talent first and then the sexy part, but...


She takes interesting roles that tend to focus on her earthly sexiness. "Stranger Than Fiction", "Away We Go", and "Crazy Heart" are prime examples. She doesn't play a little Miss Innocent - she plays down to earth by very desirable women.


Her latest film, "Hysteria" is a prime example that even when she dresses down, she is very, very sensuous.

Hysteria was what psychiatrists and doctors is today generally considered to be sexual dysfunction - and it was generally applied to women. Back in 1800s, treatment of female hysteria was massage of the patient's genitalia by the physician to cause orgasm. It's important to remember that women were very much considered second and third class citizens and men dictated what was best for them!


In the film Hugh Dancy plays Dr Mortimer Granville, a forward think doctor who eschewed many of the beliefs of the then Victorian medical practices. For example, he believed in cleaning wounds to get rid of germs - something that was unheard of back then! [This is why so many people developed infections and died from what are now simple wounds!]


His beliefs got him bounced from hospital upon hospital until he wound up in the employment of Dr. Robert Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce). Dalrymple was a private doctor who's booming business was treating female hysteria.


He handed [pun intended] the vaginal massaging duties over to Granville and business really started booming as the women preferred the younger doctor.

Dalrymple had two daughters, the prim and proper Emily (Felicity Jones) and the rebellious Charlotte (Gyllenhaal) who ran a much loathed shelter for the indigent.


Naturally, Dr Dalrymple pushed Granville toward Emily whom was quite smitten. Charlotte frowned upon her father's work - not the money - as she felt he didn't understand the female body. Though she didn't particularly care for Granville, she did appreciate his forward thoughts. In fact, their like mindedness concerning medical practices drew them closer.


However, massaging vaginae all day was becoming taxing on Granville's hand - some women took longer to cure than others. He was friends with a wealthy gad-about named Edmund St. John-Smythe (Rupert Everett) who spent most of his time and money inventing things. Their friendship led them to develop the first vibrator, something they were sure would alleviate the physical strain on his wrist and arm and possibly expedite the massages.


They tried the invention on Dalrymple's sultry house maid Molly (Sheridan Smith) who quickly approved. [Historical note: The vibrator was the fifth domestic appliance to be electrified.]

Of course, Tanya Wexler's film would be just another historical docudrama if she didn't add some romantic notes between Maggie and Hugh. Thus changing it into a chick flick that feminist from around the world can rally behind.


The story, is relatively true and Maggie makes it worth watching as she dons her sexy Earth-mother character. Between she and the fun to look at Sheridan Smith, we all begin to wonder what kinds of cad men were back then.


"Hysteria" is a nifty docudrama disguised as a chick flick. Maggie Gyllenhaal is fun to watch as always in a role that challenges   -- GEOFF BURTON