News

Watch: Maggie Gyllenhaal and the invention of the vibrator in trailer for “Hysteria”

Pin it

Fans of Maggie Gyllenhaal and her mischievous eye gleams will be pleased to learn that her upcoming period rom-com, Hysteria, now has a trailer. The film also features Hugh Dancy and Jonathan Pryce as doctors treating cases of hysteria in Victorian London, as well as turns from Rupert Everett and Felicity Jones.

The film, whose light-heartedness and wacky contraptions may call to mind The Road to Wellville, purports to tell the story of how motorized sex aids were accidentally discovered in Victorian England around 1880 by Dr. Joseph Mortimer Granville, Dancy's character. The vibrator's actual provenance is still disputed, and Granville's invention was followed at the turn of the century by an American steam-powered prototype known as a "manipulator." Interestingly, it came to market before the plug-in vacuum cleaner and iron, an early symbolic victory for female liberation perhaps.

Gyllenhaal looks like she had fun with the British accent, laying it on Paltrow-thick. You can see the potential for humor in a crude electromechanical device which, at the time, was considered an integral part of a doctor's medical kit used in treating neurotic women. Director Tanya Wexler (Finding North) said, "Everyone pretended it was a medical thing, not a sexual thing, or rather, they really believed it." Hysteria will debut at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.