Hysterical Blindness Movie Review Summary

Actors: Uma Thurman, Gena Rowlands, Juliette Lewis, Justin Chambers, Ben Gazzara

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Hysterical Blindness

Based on a play by Laura Cahill and directed by Mia Nair (“Vanity Fair”), Hysterical Blindness tells the tale of three single women looking for love and stability in 1980's Bayonne, New Jersey. While working at her data entry job, insecure Debby Miller (Uma Thurman) suddenly becomes lightheaded and loses her vision one Friday afternoon. She goes to the emergency room where the doctor on call diagnoses her with “hysterical blindness” - a temporary condition brought on by anxiety. Debby's malady does not prevent her and her best friend Beth (Juliette Lewis) from carrying on with their usual Friday night routine: drinking and dancing at Ollie's, a local bar, while hoping to meet Mr. Right. While belting down mixed drinks and chain-smoking, the big-haired, garishly made-up girls spot Rick (Justin Chambers), a handsome, sexy new face on the scene with “Patrick Swayze eyes“.   Debby shrugs the newcomer off as mean and conceited while Beth proudly claims that she would drop her pants for him in a second. They ask Bobby (Anthony DeSando) the bartender for his opinion. While Beth and Bobby proceed to flirt suggestively, Debby becomes jealous and hurt, leaving the bar in a huff. Beth chases after her and the girls argue about their unflattering track records with the male clientele at Ollie's. Beth, having gotten pregnant in high school and now on her own, decides to call it a night and head home to her young daughter. Debby, acting quite stubborn, is not ready to leave yet and prepares to go back inside the bar. Outside, she has a short, but amazing (in her eyes only) conversation with Rick. Rick graciously offers to walk Debby to her car and she changes her mind about him being a jerk. Hopeful, Debby says that she now owes Rick a drink for his kindness and that she will be at the bar the next night. In the morning, Debby is irritated to find Nick (Ben Gazzara), a new trucker friend of her mother Virginia (Gena Rowlands), drinking coffee in the kitchen. Though Debby is annoyed, she is also giddy and animated after her brief encounter with Rick. She calls on Beth and her daughter Amber Autumn (Jolie Peters) for breakfast at the Skyway Diner, where Virginia (Gena Rowlands) works as a waitress. After apologizing to Beth and telling her about Rick, Debby is extraordinarily rude to her mother while placing her order, especially after she spies Nick sitting at a table in Virginia‘s section. Amber Autumn excuses herself from the table and when she does, she overhears the other waitresses talking about Virginia and Nick being involved. After Amber Autumn spills the news, Beth is delighted that both Debby and Virginia have met a man, but Debby is livid. Debby confronts Virginia, telling her mother that when Nick finally leaves, Debby may not stick around to help pick up the broken pieces. That night at Ollie's, Rick finally makes his appearance. Though Beth warns Debby that Rick does not look interested, desperate Debby is eager to engage him in a conversation. Rick clearly has eyes for Beth, but Debby frantically lies, saying that Beth is waiting for her boyfriend to arrive. Dropping powerful hints that she will put out, Debby convinces an otherwise uninterested Rick to take her to his place. Beth, feeling more lonely than jealous by the unexpected turn of events, agrees to take Debby's car home. Debby happily discovers that Rick has just purchased his first house, which he is in the process of fixing up. After a few more beers and some hot talk on Debby‘s part, Debby and Rick sleep together. A few hours later, Debby uncomfortably awakes on Rick's living room floor. Debby suggests to Rick that they should move to his bedroom. Rick is content where he is, but Debby continues to press the issue. Finally, they climb into Rick's bed where Rick and Debby talk for a while about Rick‘s ambitious house remodeling plans. When they awake in the morning, Rick is distant and rushed. He turns down Debby‘s offer of a home cooked breakfast, but unenthusiastically agrees to go to her house for a filet mignon dinner on Wednesday night While Beth is glad Debby had a fun evening, she warns her overzealous friend to go slowly and to avoid coming on too strongly with Rick. Concerned Beth cannot dissuade Debby who is flying high now. Debby is so ecstatic; she is even circling engagement rings in a J.C. Penney catalog. Meanwhile, Virginia and Nick continue to grow closer. When Virginia sees Nick reading real estate brochures from Florida, she worries that he might be about to disappear from her life. Nick amazingly tells Virginia that he wants them to move south together. While frenetically preparing for her big dinner with Rick, Virginia is calmly getting ready for another date with the charming Nick. Refusing her mother's offers of help, Debby asks if Virginia can stay out a bit later than planned tonight. As the clock slowly ticks away the hours and the table candles gradually burn down, it is painfully obvious that Rick is not going to show. Debby is devastated and races to Rick's house to try to find answers. She waits in her car all night until she sees Rick pull into his driveway. He is alone when he gets out of the car, but Debby is still heartbroken. Exhausted and depressed, Debby calls out of work sick the next morning. That afternoon, she drives to Ollie's for a pack of cigarettes. Debby realizes that the bar is very different during the daytime. Not only is Ollie's filled with bright sunlight, but mostly older men occupy the stools, including Nick. Kindhearted Nick buys Debby a ginger ale and proceeds to talk with her. Though their conversation is brief, Debby's resentment of Nick slowly begins to fade. Tragedy soon strikes and Debby must decide on a different course of action before life blinds her permanently.
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The review of this Movie prepared by Tara Dugan

Script Analysis of Hysterical Blindness

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Plot & Themes

Time/era of movie:    -   1980's-1999 Romance/Love/Hugging    -   Yes Family, struggling with    -   Yes Struggle with:    -   Mother

Main Character

Identity:    -   Female Profession/status:    -   secretary Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White American Unusual characteristics:    -   Super sensitive soggy jelly muffin


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast City?    -   Yes City:    -   dirty, grimy (like New York) Misc setting    -   bar

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment Sex/nudity in movie?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references only    -   kissing Any profanity?    -   A lot of foul language Is this movie based on a    -   play

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