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Hysteria Review Critics


Dave White Profile

Not the Def Leppard documentary you were expecting Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 63

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    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.

    Read Full Review

  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter

    Hysteria, is a pleasurable diversion, even if it could have used a touch more spark in the writing.

    Read Full Review

  • 91

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    Whenever Rupert Everett appears as a rich fellow who distinctly does not fancy ladies, it's a hysterical history lesson of the hilarious variety.

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  • See all Hysteria reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Pause for kids 17 & under

Movie about sex toy invention isn't all that graphic.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Hysteria is a comedy-romance set in the 1880s that deals with the invention of the vibrator. Although the movie (akin to The Full Monty) manages to coyly avoid actually saying anything vulgar or showing any nudity, it has very strong suggestions of sexuality, as male doctors provide orgasms for female patients in an attempt to treat "hysteria." The doctors touch and massage the women behind a discreet screen, while they remain otherwise clothed. There's a bit of violence (male debt collectors beat up an old lady in one scene), and some social and comical drinking. Even though the movie isn't graphic, teens should be mature enough to understand something about sexuality before viewing.

  • Families can talk about Hysteria's sexuality. At one point a character says something about women "taking back their bodies." Is that what happens? What do women/characters actually learn about sexuality here?
  • By acknowledging sexuality in women of all different ages and shapes, does the movie make a positive statement about body type?
  • Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

The good stuff
  • message true1

    Messages: It's possible to see a message about women's liberation or women's sexuality, but Hysteria's arc is mostly focused on very traditional Hollywood things: men getting ahead in the world, getting rich, and finding romance. That said, most characters do learn that they can choose their own path in life.

  • rolemodels true3

    Role models: Charlotte is a positive role model except for the way she aggressively fights with her wealthy father. She's fully dedicated to helping others and runs a hospital in a poor part of town; she's unable to pay the bills, but is also unwilling to give up. The main character actually seems rather selfish compared to her.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: Debt collectors beat up an old woman, and a young woman punches a cop in the face. Viewers see images of a primitive hospital, with leeches, blood, and festering wounds. There's general arguing and a reference to splitting someone's head with an axe.

  • sex false4

    Sex: Hysteria is all about female sexuality, but it's very coy about actually showing any nudity or directly saying anything vulgar. Even so, women -- diagnosed with the vague condition "hysteria" -- visit the doctor to have orgasms, and the male doctors (working under a discreet screen), masturbate and massage them to achieve this. Otherwise, they remain clothed. The dialogue during these scenes is almost exclusively made up of discreet innuendo. Additionally, a former prostitute propositions the hero, but using only innuendo and gestures. The most physical thing shown, aside from a romantic kiss, are two ducks having sex in a pond. During the end credits, there are photos of vibrators throughout history.

  • language false2

    Language: Since the movie is set in 1880, language is limited to historical slang/swearing such as "stiff prick," "bugger," and "bloody hell."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not applicable

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: A supporting character is said to be a drunk, but he's rarely actually seen drinking. Otherwise, characters drink socially (whisky, rum, champagne, and port), and there's discussion of doctors and the pills they prescribe.