[Editor's Note: Apologies from Nathaniel, I've been under the weather and Paolo, who has been so dependable at sending capsules and reviews our way, now has a log jam of them. So many movies to discuss. Enjoy. TIFF wraps this weekend. -Nathaniel R]
Paolo here, discovering that HYSTERIA, a film about inventing the vibrator, isn't based on the recent Broadway play "In the Next Room, or The Vibrator Play" although they tackle the same subject. However, some scenes here still look like you might see them in a stage play, set in offices of upper middle class Londoners. These are perfectly designed offices, with the requisite deep trendy colours of today's period films. The character played by the unrecognizable Rupert Everett is an electricity geek. A generator occupies his office, a Rube Goldberg like thing connected to a feather duster. However, protagonist Mortimer Granville (a composite of three actual doctors played by Hugh Dancy) sees something else in this feather duster.
The comedy in the film is repetitive; how many 'strong hands' jokes can one take even if Jonathan Pryce, playing Mortimer's boss Dalrymple, delivers them so capably? Dalrymple's daughter Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal) enters the plot, a welcome break from the 'paroxysms' of Mortimer's clients. Her story line gets dramatic when her East End connections land her in prison but there isn't enough of a struggle to convince us that something bad might truly happen to her. Gyllenhall plays Charlotte with an optimism rarely seen in her darker films. She's also required to speak in a West End English accent alongside real English actors but she's not enough to elevate this film into a genuine crowd pleaser.
HICK, based on Andrea Portes' novel, is a movie set in the middle of nowhere and ends up there, despite the wishes of a thirteen year old girl named Luli (Chloe Moretz). Luli is very knowledgeable of her provenance, her mother Tammy (Juliette Lewis) giving birth to her in a bar. Her father's no different, the kind of guy who drives into playground monkey bars without hiding the bottle of whiskey in his hand. She decides to run away to Las Vegas even if she's too young to be part of the workforce. The film from this point forward becomes a road movie, taking place inside cars or at pit stops.