M, 1hr 35min
Reviewed by Peter Lampp.
This enjoyable and informative independent film is about a very touchy subject, especially for a male person.
It is worth seeing for the outstanding performance of Maggie Gyllenhaal alone.
Remember her, the spankee in Secretary but who in this one is a totally English lady with liberal leanings.
A few decades ago it was necessary to employ the crank handle to get motors purring.
Go further back than that to the late 19th century and many seemingly neglected Victorian women needed something similar, but had no idea how to get a handle on it.
It later gave rise to the now supposedly commonplace throbbing toys. And somehow, this true story was unearthed and made into a high-class romantic comedy-cum-drama.
Back in the darker times in England, hysteria was a medical condition in which women exhibited symptoms including muscle spasms, shortness of breath and desire. Get my drift, this is not easy.
Doctors discovered the malady could be alleviated by palpation of the most gentle bits and the women flocked in their finery to medical practices for treatment.
That aside, this film was an intriguing insight into medicine in the 1880s. Dr Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) even tried to convince an old duffer of a doctor that germs existed.
That didn't go down well, so he ended up working with society doctor Robert Dalrymple (Jonathon Pryce) who treated the society dames for their hysteria. Granville was so hands-on he developed over-use pains and he and his inventor friend, Lord Edmund St John-Smythe (superbly played by Rupert Everett), set out to invent a machine to do the tricks.
Dalrymple's two daughters provided the romantic twists, Emily (Felicity Jones) and the older Charlotte (Gyllenhaal) on her British bike, with Granville.
Back in those days, maybe they needed Fifty Shades of Grey. Fun with strange vibrations.
- © Fairfax NZ News