So, I am finally getting over my horrible mutant cold / general disgustingness. Well, mutant cold, at least. The general disgustingness is probably here to stay.
Which. Duh. Captain Fury.
Perhaps this is not a surprise, since this is a Joss Whedon film, but I was pleased by how the movie handled Black Widow. Depending on your point of view, she's either the least or the most impressive member of the team. She doesn't have a super suit, an awesome hammer, a Brylcreemed side-part and an indestructible shield, or the ability to turn into a giant rage-monster who still manages to retain his pants, yet she still wades in and kicks ass, and even more impressively, none of the other guys question her right to be on the team. Instead of relegating Widow to a love interest, Whedon made her one of the more interesting characters.
Hysteria is, really, just a fluffy rom-com dressed up in Victorian garb with a pro-woman message. Jonathan Pryce stars as Dr. Dalrymple, who specializes in 'pelvic massage' for hysterical upper-class London wives, and Hugh Dancy plays his assistant, Mortimer Granville, who stands to inherit the practice (and the hand of Dalrymple's lovely, boring daughter Emily). A wicked case of carpal tunnel and Dalrymple's fiery suffragette daughter (Maggie Gyllenhaal) throws a wrench in Mortimer's plans, but he develops the first electric vibrator and the practice explodes (in ecstasy!).
Hysteria is almost insufferably cute, from the prim Victorian widows who flood Dalrymple's waiting room to Gyllenhaal's almost nauseatingly idealistic Charlotte. Although she gets to deliver a sermon in the courtroom where she's standing trial for assault, the movie still ends with her getting rescued from penury and spinsterhood by the puppy-faced Mortimer. Even Emily takes her jilting with surprising good grace.
Which isn't to say I didn't like it, but it's weirdly ironic that the spandex-clad Black Widow seems like Andrea Dworkin when compared with Gyllenhaal's Charlotte. If Black Widow needed a vibrator, she'd go make her own. OUT OF DEAD MEN'S BONES.