Film: Kinsey (2004)

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Film:

Kinsey

Director: Bill Condon
Honors:
Genres:
Distributor: 20th Century Fox

One of the best films of 2004, Kinsey pays tribute to the flawed but honorable man who revolutionized our understanding of human sexuality. As played by Liam Neeson in writer-director Bill Condon’s excellent film biography, Indiana University researcher Alfred Kinsey was so consumed by statistical measurements of human sexual activity that he almost completely overlooked the substantial role of emotions and their effect on human behavior. This made him an ideal researcher and science celebrity who revealed that sexual behaviors previously considered…

Reviews

Amazon.com

One of the best films of 2004, Kinsey pays tribute to the flawed but honorable man who revolutionized our understanding of human sexuality. As played by Liam Neeson in writer-director Bill Condon’s excellent film biography, Indiana University researcher Alfred Kinsey was so consumed by statistical measurements of human sexual activity that he almost completely overlooked the substantial role of emotions and their effect on human behavior. This made him an ideal researcher and science celebrity who revealed that sexual behaviors previously considered deviant and even harmful (homosexuality, oral sex, etc.) are in fact common and essentially normal in the realm of human experience, but whose obsession with scientific method frequently placed him at odds with his understanding wife (superbly played by Laura Linney) and research assistants. In presenting Kinsey as a driven social misfit, Condon’s film gives Neeson one of his finest roles while revealing the depth of Kinsey’s own humanity, and the incalculable benefit his research had on our collective sexual enlightenment. With humor, charm, and intelligence, Kinsey shines a light where darkness once prevailed. —Jeff Shannon

Barnes and Noble

Alfred C. Kinsey—the eccentric, pioneering, controversial researcher whose 1947 study on human sexual behavior ignited a firestorm still not fully extinguished—is the focus of this engrossing film, featuring Liam Neeson in one of his best performances to date. He plays Kinsey as a dedicated, dispassionate scientist whose apparent lack of guile (and tact) not only made him some powerful enemies but also frustrated and infuriated his supporters and co-workers. Laura Linney is superb as his long-suffering wife, Clara, who understands and encourages her husband even when his behavior becomes intolerable. Writer-director Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters) treats his subject with an appropriate detachment, portraying the man as so focused on his work that he actually encourages members of his staff to have relations with one another and record their “findings.” Kinsey’s bisexuality gets the same direct, objective, non-prurient treatment, and Neeson handles this aspect of the character with great delicacy. Timothy Hutton, Chris O’Donnell, and Peter Sarsgaard are excellent as the researcher’s assistants, and John Lithgow offers a bravura turn as Kinsey’s strict, sexually frustrated father. To their credit, Condon and his actors generally eschew sensationalism, approaching Kinsey and his work with objectivity and clarity. (They go astray only in the heavy-handed treatment of the alleged “witch hunt” that targeted the scientist.) The team’s findings, now almost universally accepted despite continuing reservations about Kinsey’s sampling and methodology, won’t shock today’s viewers, who after seeing this movie may well regard this pioneering figure with much more respect than his contemporaries ever did. Ed Hulse

Related Works

Album:Kinsey: Original Score

Kinsey: Original Score

Carter Burwell

This is the score to the film “Kinsey”, about the life and work of sex-researcher Alfred Kinsey. The film, written and directed by Bill Condon and starring Liam Neeson as Kinsey and Laura Linney as his wife, puts Kinsey’s work in its mid-20th-century and mid-western American context. Carter Burwell’s score weaves between Kinsey’s life-long interest in nature—its grandeur and its limitless variety—and the intimacy of human sexuality which became his ultimate field of exploration. It’s performed by a small ensemble of exceptional musicians, mostly members of the New York Philharmonic.

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