Reasons to Have Pride in 2012, Part 4
BY Advocate Contributors
May 18 2012 4:00 AM ET
Because we brought Maggie Gyllenhaal to orgasm
When lesbian filmmaker Tanya Wexler heard about the treatment for female hysteria (i.e. orgasms) she says, “I knew it was a story I had to tell.” Her film Hysteria, which opens May 18, is a romantic comedy wrapped around the surprising story of the first electro-mechanical vibrator, invented in 1880 by happenstance, at a time when Victorian prudishness coincided with the dawn of the electrical age. It has Hugh Dancy and Maggie Gyllenhaal in key roles and out actor Rupert Everett as the eccentric and wealthy Edmund St. John-Smythe (who was reportedly so passionate about new technology that he had a telephone installed before Buckingham Palace did), and lots of women getting orgasmic.
This is the first film in 10 years for Wexler, who took time off to help raise four kids with her partner of 17 years, actress Amy Zimmerman. Wexler, who’s also half-sisters with actress Daryl Hannah, says being a lesbian helped her understand the material. “I have been on both sides of table, so to speak,” she says. “So I know the situation from both the doctor and patients’ point of view.” The hardest part was making sure that it was a “thoroughly British” film: “I was interested in the fact that in what can be a very proper — some would say repressed — culture, such ideas and inventions [as the vibrator] were possible. I think that is where the comedy comes from, that contrast. So, in many ways, the more authentically British this movie felt, the funnier!”