Review by Michael Jacobson
Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Chris O'Donnell, Peter Sarsgaard, Timothy
Hutton, John Lithgow, Oliver Platt, Tim Curry
Director: Bill Condon
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 118 Minutes
Release Date: May 17, 2005
can tell me which part of the human body can enlarge 100 times?
sure I don't know."
was referring to the pupil of your eye."
Kinsey (Neeson) was a revolutionary...not against king nor country, but against
societal conventions. He brought to
America her first real study of sexuality and what kinds of things really go on
in the bedroom. In an era when
people regularly repressed their own urges in an effort to be 'normal', many
questions about the subject went unanswered.
Kinsey sought to rectify that.
single-mindedness was both his greatest gift and harshest curse.
True, he helped usher in more tolerance and understanding than ever
before, but his obsession with breaking down all moral restrictions eventually
brought him down. At one point, his
book was the top selling tome and he was a sensation from coast to coast.
By the end of his life, he had no funding and few friends.
Even the university he single-handedly brought tons of money and
recognition to turned away when he needed it most.
up in a strict religious household by his father (Lithgow), the quiet Kinsey
earned prominence for his work in entomology.
But a wedding night fiasco with his new bride Clara (Linney) turned his
attention toward sex. As a
scientist, he realized every problem has a solution, and the solutions that were
currently available at the time, where doctors spoke of one sexual position and
had bizarre theories about what might ruin your fertility, were far from
his knowledge grew, so did his reputation.
His class on marital sexuality at Indiana University became an event
every student sought out. When
faced with questions he couldn't answer, he used the scientific
approach...namely gathering as much data as possible and analyzing it to
discover trends and outcomes. He
recruited three top students (O'Donnell, Sarsgaard, Hutton) to aid him in his
exposed different kinds of behavior, discovered homosexuality was more prevalent
than had previously been thought, and sought to break down barriers of fear and
prejudice. His conscience was
driven by science without moral compass...though he was right to try and rid
places of ridiculous laws governing what went on in bedrooms between consenting
adults, he also encouraged and practiced infidelity, not realizing until too
late what kind of hurt such actions can cause.
Some morality may seem imposed and oppressive, but sometimes the line
between right and wrong exists so that we can live with one another.
illustrates that as well as a scene where he interviews a true sex fiend, who
boasts that his thousands of conquests included children.
This should have served as a wake-up call for Kinsey, but if the
revelation had any lasting effect on his psyche, we don't really see it come
through in his approach to his work.
helped countless couples and individuals, but at the same time, his disregard
for all moral bounds made him an easy target for those who would destroy him.
He was called everything from a deviant to an out and out Communist for
his lectures and publications. Through
it all, he saw himself only as a scientist trying to diagnose problems rather
than create them.
film, written and directed by Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters), is a
fascinating character study of a man that remains controversial more than half a
century later. It's frequently
funny, shocking, and deeply moving, and most of all, solidly entertaining.
Liam Neeson has long been a favorite of mine, and in this role, he offers
his best performance since bringing the enigmatic Oskar Schindler to life.
Meeting him stroke for stroke (no pun intended) is the always wonderful
Laura Linney, who garnered an Oscar nomination for her work.
The chemistry the pair demonstrates is one of the movie's most winning
and driving forces.
approach to Professor Kinsey is very much like Kinsey's approach to his own
work...he passes no judgments and offers little in the way of either real praise
or condemnation. He merely studied
his subject inside and out to see what made him tick, and reflected on how one
man's role brought about the beginnings of the first real chance in societal
was a man so driven by science that he seemed unaware that he was taking great
risks with his life and career, and those of his closest associates.
He seems more bewildered than anything else at the end when he can no
longer continue what he started because people started turning away from him.
But he left behind a legacy with far reaching impact.
You probably know a great deal more about human sexuality than your
grandparents or parents ever did, and if so, you can thank the good Doc for
is a most impressive anamorphic widescreen transfer from Fox that captures
Condon's vision of a more simpler time in America with striking clarity and
beauty. Images are sharp, crisp and
clean throughout, with good levels of detail, bright natural looking colors, and
nothing to break up or distract from the viewing experience.
Very well done.
dialogue drives the film, but both Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks deliver it
with clarity and a natural sound, bedded against a solid music score by Carter
Burwell. Dynamic range is fairly
good, and no undue noise spoils the effect.
double disc special edition is loaded with juicy extras, most of which are
downright fun. The first disc has a
commentary with Bill Condon, who is one of the better filmmakers when it comes
to speaking about his movies. His
thoughts are generous and his recollections warm, as he discusses the various
drafts of the scripts, casting Laura Linney first who became a great cheerleader
for the project, Liam Neeson and his outside-in approach to acting, and all of
the talented cast and crew who helped him realize his vision.
second disc is another bonanza of goodies, starting with a full length
documentary that addresses both Kinsey the film and the man with
interviews galore. There are 20
deleted scenes with optional commentary from Condon, a hilarious gag reel (what
Laura Linney says about not being fair made me shoot Diet Pepsi out of my nose),
a look at some of the artifacts collected at the Kinsey Institute, an
interactive sex questionnaire, and both theatrical and teaser trailers, which
are hoots, plus a bonus trailer for What the Bleep Do We Know?