We see how the first mechanical vibrator was invented in the name of medical science. This is a sly R-rated in-crowd joke that becomes semi- militant when it launches into what was done to women in the latter 1800s (pre-Suffragette). If they were unhappy with their lives they were deemed "hysterical," sent to mental institutions, and, if they had the temerity to object, were subjected to mandatory hysterectomies. This was before Lister's ideas about sanitation were widely accepted by the medical community, so this often was a death sentence.

That being said, let's focus on the sly humor.
  • Jonathan Pryce ("Very Annie Mary") is Dr. Dalrymple, a charlatan who treats women suffering from hysteria through "manipulation" that results in "paroxysms," after which the women are "greatly relieved." His waiting room is jammed with "sufferers."
  • Hugh Dancy ("Adam") is Dr. Mortimer Granville, the physician who really DID develop the first vibrator, which remains the most popular "sex toy" in the world. After Dr. Dalrymple hires him, it's clear that our hero soon suffers from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, so he has to invent something! His treatment was for muscle aches, as masturbation was considered deviant.
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal ("Crazy Heart") is Dr. Dalrymple's progressive daughter Charlotte; she runs a soup kitchen, teaches children to read (and wash their hands), and then to cap it off, passes out literature that promotes women's right to vote. Hussy!
  • Rupert Everett ("Wild Target") has a blast as the tinkerer Edmund St. John-Smythe, Dr. Granville's good friend and collaborator. Edmund is always struggling with one invention or another and is constantly trying to get that new-fangled gadget, the telephone, to work: "Ahoy! Ahoy! Is anyone there?"
  • Felicity Jones ("Like Crazy") is Dr. Dalrymple's other (perfect) daughter Emily: acquiescent, cultured, well-groomed and lovely.
Hugh Dancy always impresses me, as does Maggie Gyllenhaal, so I was happy. This movie is near the end of its theatrical run but the (discount) venue where I saw it today had only a handful of empty seats, with the crowd happily munching on freshly popped popcorn, which is where theaters make their profits! Yippee!
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Here is a link to a preview:
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