TIFF Spotlight: “Hysteria.”
Critics have already gauged on the trends that TIFF movies have, mostly that there’s a lot of physical violence in this year’s selections. I noticed that too, but I’m also lucky enough to have seen three British period films, specifically Hysteria. Vicente Minelli and William Wyler would be proud of the deep coloured walls where the drama in these films take place.
We can’t forget the menswear in this film, those broad cravats that Drs. Robert Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce) and Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) wear, adding colour while they’re in duty to ‘cure women’s hysteria.’
The film’s focus are the two interweaving kinds of femininity – the refined lady and the struggling woman. On the one end is Robert’s youngest daughter Emily (Felicity Jones), eventually becoming engaged with Mortimer. She’s an example of the modern English woman, looking like she walked out of a painting. She evokes a young Gigi with her white dresses and wide brimmed hats while her ruffled neckline references Elizabethan revival in that period’s clothing.
While Emily is in the past, her older sister Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is in the present and future. She often looks like a nurse with her face and hands dirty, sweat building in her hair, trying to push her father into taking care of those who need it. She inadvertently gets Mortimer’s attention through a black dress that fits just as well in today’s sartorial vocabulary, and steals him by telling him know that they’re kindred spirits in science and humanitarian goals.