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Of food, technology, movies, music, and travel—or whatever else strikes my fancy

Movie reviews: Two British comedies

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*** The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (May 2012) – Theatre
Judy Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith. British retirees are lured to the bargain price Marigold Hotel in India, only to find it’s not quite like the brochure.

She says: This is another one Jean didn’t see; I went with my Mom. We both thought it was a fun movie. It wasn’t terribly deep, but it was engaging, and certainly elevated by the excellent cast.

Image from Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

*** Hysteria (May 2012) – Theatre
Hugh Dancy, Maggie Gyllenhaal. Story about the doctor who helped invent the vibrator, as treatment for female “hysteria”.

She says: “This story is based on actual events. No, really.”

Such is the tagline of Hysteria, which tells the story of young, Victorian-era doctor, Mortimer, (Hugh Dancy) who treats female “hysteria”—a very broadly defined condition—by giving them intimate massages, until they achieve “paroxysm”. This popular treatment leads to serious hand cramping until he and a tinkerer friend (Rupert Everett) almost inadvertently invent the vibrator.

These quite strange but true facts are woven into a sort of romantic comedy between the younger doctor and the activist daughter, Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal), of the older doctor who employs him. Charlotte works with the poor and thinks her father’s work frivolous; she is not shy about expressing these opinions.

I found the movie mostly fun and entertaining, with very lively performances by the actors. But the glimpses of Charlotte’s work, and even early scenes of Mortimer toiling at public hospitals, gave this movie a sort of weight that didn’t entirely sit well. It was hard to completely enjoy the story of the ridiculous, yet appreciated hysteria treatment when there was so much misery on the edges of that story.

He says: Well, that was a funny movie. And the hardest part to believe was what was actually true!

Image from Hysteria

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