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KINSEY (2004) **** DVD review by COOP

Posted on December 19th, 2008
Posted on December 19th, 2008


A very interesting study of a man whose real-life research broke sexual taboos in America.

Taking place in the 1940’s and 50’s, Alfred Kinsey (Liam Neeson) is a brilliant scientist/college professor who bores his colleagues and students with 20 years of research on the gall wasp. Eventually he gets the opportunity to teach a sex education college class. He approaches his new subject matter with the same gusto as the gall wasp. Before you can say “Jack Robinson,” his classes fill up (available to married couples only to discourage sexual deviants!) and his colleagues hang on his every word. Through his brutally honest research and his fearless determination, he eventually shatters America’s perception of sex with his first publication “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male.”

Liam takes a bold turn as the socially maladjusted and latently bisexual Kinsey. Laura Linney as his equally awkward and long-suffering wife, performs predictably adequate as usual. Peter Sarsgaard as Kinsey’s assistant does a fantastic job playing off of Neeson in the scenes involving the actual research and in social situations. The part where they pose as two gay men and go into a gay bar to research the habits of homosexuals was particularly bold, as is the scene that follows it.

Even now, people find Kinsey’s results shocking and the movie doesn’t flinch in displaying these subjects. Imagine what an uproar these findings must’ve made back in 1948. All of it flies in the face of religion and cultural taboos. The film treads in some extremely uncomfortable territory, especially when Kinsey and his wife shed their inhibitions and start indulging in open casual swinging along with his staff. It’s awkward, but often transforms into awkward hilarity, like when Kinsey thrusts all of his controversial info on his superiors and benefactors without discretion or tact. It can also be revealing, like when he conducts his invasive sex interview on his cantankerous, newly-widowed father (John Lithgow)… with surprising revelations.

One of his greatest achievements was getting his interviewees to be open and honest with him, a rare feat for the time period and in the process, he shattered the assumptions of the American public. For some modern people a lot of his findings could be considered common sense, while for others, a downright blasphemy. Whatever side of the fence you fall on in this matter, this research happened and is considered relevant in the annals of science. Dang, I keep forgetting about the movie. It was good. Maybe that’s an understatement. It gets wilder as it goes along too, making it compulsively watchable. It also gets out of hand at times which lowers its rating a tad. By that I mean it goes over the top a few times when it simply should’ve stuck to the issues and the heart of the story, not so much Kinsey struggling whether he’s turned deviant or not. An important film nonetheless. Hell, I might’ve suggested an Oscar nomination for Neeson.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Ultra pretentious and preachy trailer below! Trust me, the movie isn’t near as high-handed as this trailer suggests. It’s far more morally ambiguous and bold than it looks…

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