KINSEY (Bill Condon, 2004)
Indiana University researcher Alfred Kinsey scandalized America in the 1940s and 50s with the publication of his studies SEXUAL BEHAVIOR IN THE HUMAN MALE and SEXUAL BEHAVIOR IN THE HUMAN FEMALE. Bill Condon’s film KINSEY examines the man behind the landmark research. Liam Neeson stars, with Laura Linney playing Kinsey’s wife Clara. Kinsey and his team conducted thousands of interviews in their scientific exploration of human sexuality. What he learned and reported changed public perception of normality. Needless to say, Kinsey’s findings were controversial at the time, and his discoveries and conclusions continue to stir vociferous debate.
Using the same tactic that Kinsey insisted upon for his research interviews, Condon’s nonjudgmental presentation of his subject grants closer inspection than a film with a specific viewpoint could. Whether one agrees with Kinsey or not, the film observes the man and lets the audience determine the value of his work. The strategy was at the heart of Kinsey’s method. Through impartiality the interviewer could make the interviewee feel more comfortable and thus more open to giving honest responses. With his lanky frame and bad haircut, Kinsey doesn’t look at all like someone at ease talking to anyone, let alone inquiring about their sex lives, but Neeson locates the right level of engagement and dispassion in the scientist’s approach. Kinsey’s interest in sex combines the psychological and mechanical, and the film strikes a balance that is neither erotic nor clinical. Bolstered by Neeson’s good performance, Condon’s character study examines Kinsey warts and all.
(Review first aired on the January 4, 2005 NOW PLAYING)