This entry from France (English captions) to the 2013 Seattle International Film Festival is by turn, horrifying, informative, funny and sad. Written and directed by Alice Winocour, I wasn't sure if this had any real basis in fact. Reminded of "Hysteria" released in June of 2012, which named real people treating the same "ailment" in 19th century England, I wondered if this too, was equally grounded. Happily, I found plenty of evidence that it is based on real people. Unfortunately, the barbaric equipment they used in their "treatments" is also based on fact. That is the horrifying part!

We watch:
  • Vincent Lindon ("La moustache") is wonderful as Professeur Jean-Martin Charcot, whose well-documented treatments for hysteria were conducted at Salpêtrière School. The young women who were his patients had almost epileptic spasms, cut themselves and were otherwise self abusive. The professor was a dedicated ethical man, but he WAS a man....
  • Soko ("Friends from France") is our eponymous heroine, a serving maid in a prominent home who falls down in a terrifying fit, and awakens to find her right eye is paralyzed and closed. She is sent to Salpêtrière where her treatments begin. The patients there are expected to earn their keep, so she is working with the poultry when a cook beheads a hen. She has another fit, only to discover that now her eye works but the ailment has traveled to another part of her body. And so it goes...
  • Chiara Mastroianni ("Persepolis" voice) is the professor's wife, Constance. She seems to suspect that some of her husband's young female patients might find a cure for their hysteria in his well-tailored trousers. (I began to suspect the same thing!)
Of course with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, we can easily discount all the experiments and theories they worked on at the time, but we actually DO care about that man's career.

As I said, this was interesting and informative. Just know that a chicken is beheaded in living color; expect some nudity; there is no profanity or gunshots... I'm sure it will eventually be R-rated because of content.
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Here is a trailer:
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