2012 Certificate: 15


The Victorian origins of the humble vibrator are explored in this ribald British comedy drama starring Hugh Dancy as a mild-mannered doctor whose treatment of sexually frustrated women looks to electronic science for a solution. Maggie Gyllenhaal is the free spirit and fledgling suffragette who encourages his research in a light-hearted romp that will leave all-comers with good vibrations.


  • Tanya Wexler


  • Hugh Dancy

  • Maggie Gyllenhaal

  • Jonathan Pryce

  • Rupert Everett

  • Felicity Jones


The sexual frustrations of well-to-do Victorian women were dismissed by the medical establishment under the catch-all diagnosis of "hysteria".

Classic symptoms included "weeping, nymphomania, frigidity, melancholia and anxiety", deep clinical thinkers concluded "from a disorder of the womb".

Making a tidy profit from this quackery is Dr Robert Dalrymple (Pryce), whose tactile treatment to release the tensions brought about by hysteria would get him struck off today.

Into his lucrative private practice sails dedicated doctor Mortimer Granville (Dancy), a keen young fellow whose healing hands prove a hit with the ladies, a popularity that sets him up as Dalrymple's heir apparent and natural match for his daughter Emily (Jones).

However, Granville finds himself drawn to her flighty sister Charlotte (Gyllenhaal), a rebel advocate of women's rights who has set up a settlement house for the poor in London's East End.

Things take a turn for the worse when Granville's dexterous daily grind gives him hand cramps and he has to come up with an alternative form of stimulation. Could his electric gadget-obsessed buddy Rupert Everett have the answer?

Director Tanya Wexler may be American but this has the feel of the cheeky British sex comedy happy to follow in a long, smutty line that takes in everything from Carry On to Are You Being Served?

She was fortunate to attract a high calibre cast with Dancy presenting his Hugh Grant-in-waiting credentials and Gyllenhaal providing the American lure with an impeccable English accent.

It's all end of the pier stuff with much mucky comedy mileage to be had from the stuffy Victorian terror of sex set against the women's emancipation movements and an unlikely bedfellow in saucy electronic gizmos.

It's a buzz.