Published Nov 01, 2004It's hard to believe that we didn't always know every minute detail of celebrities' sex lives or what a president used a cigar for, but that was the case before Alfred Kinsey decided to switch his focus from wasps to humans in the 1940s.
Biology professor Kinsey (Liam Neeson) gained international notoriety because his propensity towards true science forced him to accept humans for their human nature, instead of advising male students to "sit with your testicles in a bowl of cold water" as a cure for masturbation.
Along with his dutiful yet headstrong wife Clara (Laura Linney) and a few of his prized graduate students, Kinsey conducted thousands of interviews, compiling data without judgement on the sexual experiences of everyday Americans. Church groups and rightwing governments attacked his Sexual Behavior In The Human Male (1947) for being scandalously dangerous to the nation's moral fibre.
Still, such a controversial subject as Kinsey, an atheist and bisexual scientist who almost single-handedly started the sexual revolution, would not be so palatable a bio-pic premise were it not in the hands of writer/director Bill Condon (Gods And Monsters), who is able to make accessible and human films out of contentious ideas. The methodical rhythm of his scripts, often misconstrued as slow, suits this piece just like sex, you can get to the climax without much foreplay but it wouldn't be as much fun.
The cast of Kinsey is strong overall, but most of the notable actors Neeson, Linney, Chris O'Donnell (incredibly dull as always), Tim Curry, John Lithgow, etc. don't exactly stretch out into new territory. The exception is Peter Sarsgaard (Shattered Glass) as the primary lover of both Alfred and Clara. He quietly steals every scene by displaying an extreme sensitivity that's in stark contrast to Kinsey's world of hard, cold facts. (Fox Searchlight)