Liam Neeson stars as Alfred Kinsey, a man driven by scientific passion and personal demons to investigate the elusive mystery of human sexuality. Laura Linney garnered a Best Actress OscarÂ(r) nomination for her compellin... more »g performance as KinseyÃ"â??s free-thinking wife. This provocative drama dares to lift the veil of shame from a society in which sex was hidden, knowledge was dangerous and talking about it was the ultimate taboo.« less
The PBS documentary "Kinsey" was much more interesting than this movie---I would recommend watching it instead.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Gary J. (gjones) from TROUTDALE, OR Reviewed on 1/17/2010...
Fascinating. I'd heard of the Kinsey Report all my life but the story of he and his wife is amazing. Liam Neeson is awesome (as usual) and the rest of the cast is excellent. I especially liked the performance of Peter Sarsgaard, it was truly inspired. But it was the story itself, the ground-breaking research at a time when sex was simply not discussed. Phenomenal.
4 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
Heather F. (8izenuff) from PHOENIX, AZ Reviewed on 9/19/2008...
I was prepared to not like this based on the rumor that the Kinsey report was tainted. It was well done and opened my eyes to the possiblility that before the Kinsey report young marrieds were not instructed on sex and the like and were frustrated with their love lives. Growing up in a different era you dont realized how things have changed. It was not filthy. Was it accurate about Kinsey? Possibly but it does shed a more innocent not filthy light on this person who thought he was helping people. Great cast.
3 of 5 member(s) found this review helpful.
A preoccupation with sex
Joseph Haschka | Glendale, CA USA | 11/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"KINSEY is the story of Alfred Kinsey, here played by Liam Neeson, the author of "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male" (1948) and "Sexual Behavior in the Human Female" (1953), both of which raised, um, eyebrows.
As the film succinctly shows, Alfred, the son of a puritanical minister that went so far as to rail against zippers for giving idle hands easy access to occasions for sin, grew up to be a zoologist whose obsession with collecting and studying the gall wasp gained him a measure of obscurity. However, after marrying Clara McMillen (Laura Linney), with whom he achieved sexual liberation after sorting out a few physical impediments with the help of a knowledgeable physician, Kinsey achieved local notoriety at Indiana University by teaching an enlightened and graphic sex education course for students and staff. It was there that he first utilized questionnaires to elicit personal sexual histories, the methodology, administered by trained interviewers, that he later used in the thousands across the nation to build the database for his two books. In KINSEY, we also see depicted the Kinsey couple's unconventional sexual relationship, as well as those of Alfred's cadre of interviewers and their wives. Hugh Hefner would've been proud to have the investigative team over to his mansion for a frolic.
Insofar as it goes, KINSEY appears to give a reasonably accurate summary of the sex researcher's bio. I base this conclusion on my own sketchy knowledge of the subject, hastily gleaned from a website. The film does skip over a couple of minor points. It doesn't share that Alfred was an atheist who thought Judeo-Christian sexual ethics repressive. It also seamlessly transitions from Kinsey's sex-ed class at IU into his larger national study without revealing that he was replaced as the class instructor because his lecture content was too racy for the times. In any case, Neeson's performance is certainly worth an Oscar nomination for Best Actor, and perhaps Linney for Best Actress also.
Perhaps hoping to be on the cutting edge of sexual expression, as were Kinsey's two books, KINSEY has two brief shots of full-frontal male nudity (involving supporting actor Peter Sarsgaard), something not often seen in American theatres in mainstream releases. Kinsey would be pleased.
KINSEY is a finely crafted, entertaining, and instructive look at a simpler time and place before AIDS and HIV became parts of the sexual equation."
Good bio-pic that ignores the most interesting questions
Lesley Freitas | Chicago, IL USA | 06/23/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"When "Kinsey" was released, I entered the theater eagerly, expecting a detailed and thorough look at the man and his work; I left the theater disappointed, and that disappointment grew the more I thought back on the film. "Kinsey" does indeed provide a detailed and thorough look at Alfred Kinsey, but the movie's treatment of his work and its impact is very narrow. The filmmakers never quite get to the really interesting questions.
"Kinsey" tells the story of Alfred Kinsey (Liam Neeson), author of "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male." The film follows Kinsey's life from his early years as a zoologist and his marriage to his wife Clara (Laura Linney), through his groundbreaking work in the study of human sexuality and the effects of and reactions to that work.
As a straight bio-pic, "Kinsey" does a good job. However, it is hard to miss the fact that the implications of his work are largely ignored, and when the subject is raised, the movie quickly glosses it over. For instance, Kinsey appears to argue that sex and emotion can and should be thought of as unrelated (or at least not necessarily related), and he follows this principle in his own life. In the larger scale, this sentiment figured largely in the American sexual revolution, and continues to a vital part of current attitudes towards sex. Yet this aspect of Kinsey's work is addressed for only the briefest of moments. At one point, Clara--initially upset by the notion that sex and love can be divorced from one another--asks Kinsey, "But what about love?" This is by far the most compelling question the movie asks, yet the plot quickly moves past it, leaving it as merely a device to further the development of Kinsey and Clara's relationship.
The implications of Kinsey's work are not entirely ignored by the movie, and the filmmakers do a good job of addressing the impact on homosexuality and its perception. But ultimately, "Kinsey" deeply disappointed me. Although Kinsey's studies furthered our understanding of human sexuality, the subject still remains quite mysterious, and the filmmakers squandered a wonderful chance to probe its depths."
Fascinating research by a very strange guy
Daniel B. Clendenin | www.journeywithjesus.net | 01/24/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In 1938 Alfred Kinsey, a young Harvard-trained zoologist whose speciality was the gall wasp, took over a course on "marriage" at Indiana University and, based upon his relentless curiosity and unapologetically scientific treatment of the subject, turned the class into something akin to sexology. He subsequently published Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953), based upon 18,000 sexual histories he and his staff collected. For the first time ever, sex was scientifically-situated. This biographical dramatization reminded me of Ray, in the sense of an overwhelming human force who grappled with a perennial subject and in the process shaped American culture. The main message of the film, if it has one, seems to be that repression and taboo melt in the light of frankness and tolerance of difference, no matter how quirky: "We are the recorders and reporters of facts--not the judges of the behaviors we describe," insisted Kinsey. But the film is careful to show in some deeply painful moments like pedophilia, sex encouraged among staff members, Kinsey's bi-sexual experimentation, and broken marriages that human sexuality is far more, and more complex, than the mere scientific documentation of its parts. Fidelity, intimacy, integrity and love define sexuality as much as our habits. Kinsey died in 1956 at the age of 62, although the Kinsey Institute continues today."
Liam Neeson and Laura Linney shine in pedestrian tale of Ame
Scott Schiefelbein | Portland, Oregon United States | 10/18/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Recent years have seen a stellar crop of biopics coming out of Hollywood. From "Ray" to "Walk the Line" to "Capote" (just to name a few), we have been treated to great actors and writers telling the stories of fascinating people. "Kinsey" does not quite rise to that level, but is a solid movie in its own right and features two stellar performances in Liam Neeson and Laura Linney.
Neeson, one of my favorite actors, plays against type as the titular Alfred Kinsey. It is odd to see Neeson play, without putting too fine a point on it, a complete and utter nerd. Neeson has conveyed intelligence before, but it was always a dashing intelligence. Here, Neeson plays the rooster-haired taxonomist with a single-minded zeal for scientific discovery but only rare outbursts of genuine human emotion. Kinsey is as close as a human being has come to our favorite Vulcan, Mr. Spock - even his ears are kinda pointy.
Kinsey meets his soulmate in his student, Clara "Mac" McMillen, who Linney plays with infinite patience, a lot of intelligence, but with quite a bit more emotion than her husband. Perhaps the only bad choice Linney made in the entire movie is to wear colored contact lenses that made her eyes almost completely black, masking her baby blues. Other than that, Linney is flawless.
The movie goes to great lengths to show how important Kinsey was to American culture. The movie's thesis - and it seems to be largely correct - is that America's sexual education came not from self-styled promoters like Hugh Hefner, but from the academic Kinsey and the University of Indiana. Shocked that his university students are sexual illiterate, Kinsey convinces a reluctant university president, played by Oliver Platt, to allow Kinsey to teach a "sex course." From this foundation, Kinsey develops a little faculty of his own and goes on to publish two landmark books about sex and the American male and female. Initially hailed as a hero after the publishing of his book on men, Kinsey is ostracized after publishing his book on women and is dubbed a corrupter of America's youth by the prudes who dominate American culture.
So, why the three-star review? Maybe I've just seen too many movies, but the scenes that deal with the depths of America's sexual puritanism seem to have been done before. Attacking American sexual mores, circa 1950, is like shooting fish in a barrel - it's just too easy. We've heard a thousand times the stupid theories of the day, from high heels causing sterility to pregancy being caused by heavy petting. The pioneers of sexual freedom are always shown to be reasonable, and the opponents are always the ridiculous prudes and their unfortunate victims.
It was perhaps inspired casting to put John Lithgow in the role of Kinsey's hyper-repressed-and-restrictive father. It was Lithgow, after all, who played the hyper-restrictive father in "Footloose." While we eventually see old Dad as a sympathetic character, "Kinsey" also breaks down the characters into prudes=bad, Kinseyans=good.
There is a bit of a struggle toward the end of the movie about the consequences of sexual liberation as Kinsey's staff -- who engage in more than a bit of "free love" -- get a little miffed at each other. But in general, the movie's dichotomy remains its trademark.
This isn't to say that "Kinsey" is a bad film, and that it's perspective is not valid. It's just that this theme is something that I, as a teenager in the 1980's, have heard countless times before.
The movie also squanders a couple of prime opportunities. Oliver Platt is given remarkably little to do as the university president, and Tim Curry even less as a university "hygiene professor" whose lectures on sexual conduct border on the criminal. These two outrageous actors could have been used to astounding effect in a movie about sexual repression and freedom, and yet may as well not have been used at all other than to build up and dash our hopes.
As far as it goes, "Kinsey" is a solid, well-made movie. But, aside from some pitch-perfect acting by Neeson and Linney, there is nothing about "Kinsey" that separates it from the conventional biopic."
A Surprising Love Story
R. Schultz | Chicago | 03/15/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I was prepared to have my negative feelings about Kinsey confirmed in this movie. I'd heard that he took a cold accounting approach to his sex studies, that he had basically been a taxonomist/entomologist who had transferred his skills at categorizing and dissecting insects (specifically gall wasps) to tallying human behavior. But this movie introduced me to someone a lot more sympathetic, innocent, and complicated than that. It introduced me to someone never quite in on the joke.
The film does inform viewers about Kinsey's working methods and the dynamics of his relationship with the graduate students he recruited to help with the burgeoning workload as he sought to interview a huge cross-section of the American population about their sexual habits and preferences. It shows how he attempted to train his associates in impassive objectivity, so as not to frighten any of their interview subjects into falsifications.
I would like to have learned more about how Kinsey translated the sometimes almost stream-of-consciousness reflections he elicited from study subjects (including one particularly repulsive, absolutely unrepentant pedophile) - into the crisp numeric tallies on his sheets of paper. But perhaps such details of his study are best left to documentaries about his life.
This movie wasn't meant to be a documentary. It was meant to provide some emotional insight into the man himself. The heart of the movie is his relationship with his wife, and the heart of that relationship is Laura Linney's portrayal of Clara. They had an unconventional romance from the start. One of the most touching scenes shows Kinsey celebrating Clara by giving her a clumpy pair of walking shoes. She greets these with sincere pleasure. She shines in anticipation of all the places they can tramp together, with her in such a "sensible" pair of shoes.
The movie proceeds to take us through some of the ups and downs of their open marriage. Kinsey is a pioneer in equality, wondering why his wife isn't getting as much pleasure out of their sexual relationship as he is - a question few husbands in that era would even think to ask. He sets out to investigate the process of pleasure scientifically and to set things right. As their marriage matures, Kinsey has his affairs - with both men and women. Then when Clara decides she might like to try an outside adventure on her own - the play of subtle emotions on the actors' faces tells a story in itself.
Those shoes come to represent their relationship throughout their lives - through their accommodations with each other, through their estrangements, through their essential affection for each other. In the end, as in the beginning, they enjoy their explorations together, in sensible shoes.
This movie will take you in unexpected directions."