Single mother Virginina (Jennifer Connelly) reads with her son, Emmett (Harrison Gilbertson), who remains devoted to her even when her ill-advised affair with the married sheriff of their small Virginia town puts pressure on her family.
Credit Entertainment One
The years-long affair between Sheriff Dick Tipton (Ed Harris) and Virginia sours when Tipton decides to run for state Senate, prompting Virginia to fake a pregnancy.
Dustin Lance Black, the writer-director of the swampy Southern melodrama Virginia, won an Oscar for his script for Milk, but his new film has more in common with the three seasons he served as a writer, story editor and producer for the HBO series Big Love.
In seeking the best ways to treat his female patients' nervous conditions, forward-thinking Victorian physician Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy, left) enlists the help of his inventor friend Edmund St. John-Smythe (Rupert Everett). They soon stumble into inventing the vibrator.
Credit Sony Pictures Classics
Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Charlotte Dalrymple, the rebellious activist daughter of the physician whose practice Granville joins.
Hysteria, a disappointingly limp ode to the invention of the vibrator, plays like a Merchant Ivory Production of Portnoy's Complaint. Watching it, you'd never know that this revolutionary discovery, by allowing women to pleasure themselves, hammered a crucial nail into the coffin of 19th-century patriarchy. A boon to bluestockings and unsatisfied wives alike, the device rocked sexual politics, even if its full repercussions were not immediately understood.
As humane as it is disturbing, Polisse rifles the files of Paris' Child Protection Unit in search of successes, failures and all the shades of ambiguity in between. If the movie's jumpy edits and raw emotions jangle the nerves, that's intentional: This documentary-mimicking drama is designed to evoke the experience of working a beat that can never become routine.
Elena (Nadezhda Markina), a dutiful wife to her wealthy husband and a burdened mother to her layabout son, manages to balance the needs of the two, until she learns her husband plans to leave her family nothing in his will.
Credit Zeitgeist Films
Elena cares for her husband Vladimir's (Andrey Smirnov) needs in a relationship whose true nature is not entirely clear.
On its surface alone, Andrey Zvyagintsev's Elena is an intensely compelling slice of noir about moral rot and class warfare in post-Soviet Russia. Deeper down, the movie seethes quietly with the moody influence of other East European masters of the timeless ineffable. If Zvyagintsev were a less inscrutable filmmaker, he might have titled his new film Crime Without Punishment — but we'll get to that.