JT Film Review

106 – Kinsey (2004)


4/5 stars

Director – Bill Condon

Cast – Liam Neesom, Laura Linney, Peter Sarsgard, Chris O’Donnell, Timothy Hutton, John Lithgow, Tim Curry, Oliver Platt, Dylan Baker


Dr. Alfred Kinsey (played here by Liam Neesom) was a famous (at the time, infamous) researcher who made the study of human sexuality his life’s work,gaining prominence in the 1940’s and 1950’s. This dedication put him at odds with the morality of the time, and at times with his wife and colleagues. While creating his famous database of human sexuality, he explores the difference between love and sex, friendship and love, and fights for open-mindedness in American culture. Kinsey is his story.

Kinsey is a very well presented movie with fine acting. Laura Linney (who plays Kinsey’s wife) was nominated for the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, and personally I think Neesom should have been as well. There are many fine actors in supporting roles, from Timothy Hutton to John Lithgow, and Oliver Platt to Tim Curry.

The movie is perhaps best described as “pleasant”. Despite dealing with fairly controversial topics even for today (such as child molestation) the movie is quiet and reserved, much like Neesom’s calm and measured (though slightly naive) portrayal of the doctor. Nothing too horrible really happens here. (I must note that this is not a criticism. It is refreshing to have a movie dwell on the intellectual rather than the emotional.) Kinsey has an affair with a male associate (Peter Sarsgard) and tells his wife about it. They calmly agree that the best way to restore balance is for her to sleep with Sarsgard as well. This happens, and Kinsey just gives us a strange little absent look, as if wondering if he should feel something, or perhaps what it is that he is feeling. Perhaps he agreed to the experiment for its own sake, as after all, it was an oppurtunity for an experiment and therefore should be investigated.

In a lesser movie this event would have dramatised to within an inch of its life; they would have almost split up, people would have been slapping each other, etc. Instead the situation is dealt with calmly and with great thought. That is the essence of this movie I think, and reflects Kinsey himself. The doctor (at least as he is shown here) calmly goes about investigating the emotional complexities of human life, and the movie does the same.

Kinsey’s dedication to his research, however unpopular it may have been, is at the heart of the movie. The press misses no opportunity to mock him (despite his books having become best sellers, or perhaps because of it), and his funders constantly try to hold him back from making judgements as a result of his research. Still Kinsey finds it hard to resist a jab or two at what he sees as moral prudes, and he finds himself taking his research and transplanting into the realm of morals. “If everyone sins, then no-one sins!” he proclaims. In the end we have no choice but to see his point.


Kinsey is a solid film anchored by a fine performance from Liam Neesom. It is possible that without Neesom’s strength and whimsical vitality the movie would not have been as strong, as the material can be a bit dry at times. However an excellent supporting cast and steady direction keep Kinsey from sinking below the level of the average biopic. It may not challenge us as such, but this movie is strong entertainment. Recommended.



“Kinsey” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia



August 31, 2010 - Posted by | 4 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Drama, Year - 2000-2009 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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