Metascore
53

Mixed or average reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 33
  2. Negative: 2 out of 33
  1. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    May 16, 2012
    91
    Whenever Rupert Everett appears as a rich fellow who distinctly does not fancy ladies, it's a hysterical history lesson of the hilarious variety.
  2. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    May 17, 2012
    88
    Considering the subject, ripe with titillating possibilities, it's surprisingly about as sexy as a week-old meat loaf. Tastefully directed by Tanya Wexler, it is a total joy from start to finish.
  3. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Jun 13, 2012
    75
    Hysteria is a one-joke movie, but when a joke is told this well, it doesn't matter.
  4. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    May 31, 2012
    75
    Hysteria is a romantic comedy, not an erotic one.
  5. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    May 23, 2012
    75
    The performances are spot on, and I especially like the spunky Gyllenhaal, who with this film and the underrated "Secretary" (2002), has built up a nice sideline in sexual exploration.
  6. Reviewed by: Sara Stewart
    May 18, 2012
    75
    If director Tanya Wexler occasionally wanders into excess cutesiness...she makes up for it with a surplus of eye-opening historical details and a refreshing warmth for all her characters, even the ones whose views are clearly on the way out.
  7. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    May 12, 2012
    70
    Hysteria, is a pleasurable diversion, even if it could have used a touch more spark in the writing.
  8. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Jun 14, 2012
    67
    For a film that shows the folly of failing to take the female orgasm seriously, Hysteria ends up taking a silly angle on a potentially fascinating slice of secret history.
  9. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    May 17, 2012
    65
    The picture is at least spirited, a jaunty trifle that's low on eroticism but high on cartoony coquettishness. Like the little motorized whatsit that is its subject, it does have its charms.
  10. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Jun 7, 2012
    63
    Hysteria never gets too preachy or ponderous, and there's something in the film to educate even the most learned viewer.
  11. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    May 31, 2012
    63
    It's cute. So is the movie. If it never rises to greatness, it may be because it's also a fairly formulaic romcom.
  12. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    May 17, 2012
    63
    The comic elements of this semi-factual tale are heavy-handed, and a key romance falls flat. Despite its titillating subject matter, Hysteria is only mildly stimulating. The final third of the story meanders during a tedious trial and clumsy speechifying.
  13. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    May 17, 2012
    63
    Hysteria's "hook" is that it chronicles the development of one of the 20th century's most popular home appliances: the vibrator. However, although the details surrounding the deplorable state of women's medicine during the Victorian era are intriguing, the central story - a romantic comedy between a progressive woman and a forward-thinking doctor - is flaccid.
  14. Reviewed by: R. Kurt Osenlund
    May 13, 2012
    63
    Hysteria's happy ending isn't the type that calls for a cigarette, and it certainly isn't the one the film deserves.
  15. Reviewed by: Anna Smith
    Sep 17, 2012
    60
    Lightly humorous, well performed and not nearly as smutty as you might imagine. The earth may not move, but there are tingles of pleasure along the way.
  16. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Jun 15, 2012
    60
    The joy of Hysteria, like the joy of certain other things, isn't necessarily rooted in the element of surprise. Rather, it's in the pleasure of the path taken to get to that crescendo.
  17. Reviewed by: Jeannette Catsoulis
    May 22, 2012
    60
    Hysteria, a disappointingly limp ode to the invention of the vibrator, plays like a Merchant Ivory Production of "Portnoy's Complaint."
  18. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    May 17, 2012
    60
    While a delicate topic would seem to require a delicate touch, Wexler goes more for cheeky entertainment. To some degree, it works.
  19. 60
    Though the film is a fairly plastic British period piece with all the intimacy of a Hitachi Wand, the script captures some delicate and intelligent facets of a tensely conflicted era.
  20. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    May 18, 2012
    58
    Even the humor is played too broadly – another notch and we'd be in "Monty Python" territory, though not half as witty.
  21. Reviewed by: Kimberley Jones
    Jun 13, 2012
    50
    Rather born to wear a frock coat, Dancy shares the stammer-blush, winning-grin methodology of countryman Hugh Grant, only with more probity and better posture.
  22. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Jun 8, 2012
    50
    As a sex-education comedy, Hysteria is flaccid, forced and unfunny.
  23. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Jun 7, 2012
    50
    The problem with Hysteria is that it keeps patting itself and us on the back for knowing better.
  24. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    May 24, 2012
    50
    There is no denying that every time Gyllenhaal steps into a frame she takes a sleeping movie and wakes it up.
  25. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    May 24, 2012
    50
    In fact, the problem with the film is that, despite an excellent cast that includes Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hugh Dancy and Rupert Everett, it doesn't really know what it is. A little of this, a little of that and by the time it's done, it adds up to not much at all.
  26. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    May 24, 2012
    50
    The movie lacks wit.
  27. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    May 17, 2012
    50
    Silly, featherweight comedy.
  28. Reviewed by: Dennis Harvey
    May 12, 2012
    50
    Dancy manages a few sly moments, and Everett is as ever a scene-stealer, if barely recognizable under a beard and altered features, and with a raspy voice. But the estimable Pryce and Jones are wasted, along with many other fine thesps, while Gyllenhaal works too gratingly hard in an already strained role.
  29. Reviewed by: David Cox
    Sep 21, 2012
    40
    Gyllenhaal rises above the tedium; sadly, not far enough. Great English accent, though.
  30. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    May 18, 2012
    40
    The whole thing, shot in the manner of "Masterpiece Theatre," with a flaccid musical score to match, is itself hopelessly antiquated, greeting with very British giggles, and without a trace of honest curiosity, the needs of the women it seeks to honor. [21 May 2012, p.81]
  31. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    May 15, 2012
    40
    There's nothing strictly wrong with any of this, except for the fact that even a buttoned-down period piece like "Topsy-Turvy" feels sexier.
  32. Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson
    May 15, 2012
    30
    Proceeds as a tedious, clumsy diddle, constantly reminding viewers how much progress has been made since the Victorian era.
  33. Reviewed by: Kate Taylor
    May 17, 2012
    25
    Unfortunately, Hysteria is much closer in its effects to a more significant and much larger 19th-century invention. Like the locomotive, this costume drama proceeds noisily and methodically toward a destination that is agreed upon from the outset. Good orgasms and good movies generally offer surprises; good trains do not.
User Score
6.0

Mixed or average reviews- based on 21 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 5
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 5
  3. Negative: 0 out of 5
  1. Jun 26, 2013
    6
    A true story about the invention of the vibrator. It's a period piece.

    Had to get the pun in. This film was much more entertaining than
    A true story about the invention of the vibrator. It's a period piece.

    Had to get the pun in.

    This film was much more entertaining than I intended, and I enjoyed watching it. The film is very much light hearted, which I believe leads to it's downfall, as it can never achieve greatness as it is too fluffy round the edges... I wanted some more depth... It needed to be longer.

    OK... Enough innuendo.

    Gyllenhaal is strong in the film, with a great British accent, and everyone is good, with Jonathon Pryce being present also which just makes it better.

    It is no classic, but it is fun and entertaining because you feel the actors are having a good time also.
    Full Review »
  2. Apr 29, 2013
    7
    A well made and pretty funny movie. This is a movie I thought could be really cheesy but thankfully it hits more than it misses. I recommendA well made and pretty funny movie. This is a movie I thought could be really cheesy but thankfully it hits more than it misses. I recommend you at least check this film out once. Full Review »
  3. Jun 21, 2012
    6
    This fact-based film explores the birth of the vibrator. In the 1880s, women where often diagnosed with hysteria, which was treated by aThis fact-based film explores the birth of the vibrator. In the 1880s, women where often diagnosed with hysteria, which was treated by a doctor who masturbated them into contentment. After one popular young physician (Hugh Dancy) becomes immobilized by his overused hand, he stumbles upon the beneficial invention. It's obvious how every aspect of this story will play out after the first 10 minutes. So it's all about the execution. The direction is genteel with typical British aplomb and the performances are enjoyable. The standout is Maggie Gyllenhaal as the socially-conscious troublemaker. Overall, it's a mildly amusing, but undistinguished history lesson. Full Review »