The story is of one Mortimer Granville, M.D., an enthusiastic young doctor who just wants to help people in need of the medical arts, finds himself working for one Dr. Robert Dalrymple, a specialist treating the disease of hysteria. Hilarity ensues in the following forms:
- Dr. Dalrymple's maid, a prostitute-turned-domestic named Molly.
- Edmund St. John-Smythe (played by Rupert Everett), Granville's friend and an electrical technological geek with wonderful one-liners ranging from technology to sex to fistfights at parties.
- Men who think that hysteria is a real disease, with symptoms in everything from toothaches to depression.
- The medical "quackery" advertised on the streets.
- Speaking of "quacks," the ducks in the park.
- The Dalrymple sisters- polar opposites and representative of the "angel/devil in the house" gender theories of the Victorian times.
- The clients that Granville treats, both before the vibrator is invented and after.
Another favorite point is the fact that the audience can clearly see the outline of Charlotte's corset underneath her practical blouses- much as bra lines can be seen with some clothes today, even if they're meant to be conservative clothing. I've worn corsets beneath blouses and Victorian dresses before, wondering how women concealed the lines that sometimes show through. It was just nice to see an on-screen character with the same problem.
|image source: Windy City Times|
There was also a more "serious" subplot thrown into the mix- that of Charlotte's charity work in the slums of London- that was rather sloppily done, almost taken directly from the the TV series "Bramwell," which is about another headstrong Victorian female, a doctor who runs a charity hospital in the East End in 1890s London. It also gave me painful memories of my last full-time job's inability to pay bills.
But negatives aside, it was an educational movie regarding medical discoveries and social ideals, radical ideas, and the worries regarding the changing role of women in 1880s England. So if you are a Victorian history buff interested in those topics I strongly recommend giving this movie a try, if only to laugh at our modern take of the prudish Victorians and their repressed sexuality unleashed.