Directed by Bill Condon, starring Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Chris O'Donnell, Peter Sarsgaard, Timothy Hutton, John Lithgow, Oliver Platt and Tim Curry.
Liam Neeson stars as Alfred Kinsey, a reserved scientist and lecturer at Indiana University in the US during the 1940s and 1950s who was prompted to research sexual behaviour when his students came to him seeking advice on the subject. Neeson gives a remarkable performance in a daring and interesting movie.
Feeling suffocated by his religiously zealous and distant father (Lithgow), the young Kinsey studies to become a scientist. His early fascination with wasps is soon overshadowed when he marries free-thinking Clara McMillen (Linney). Their initial sexual problems lead Kinsey to explore sex from a scientific standpoint and ultimately to undertake wide-ranging and in-depth research on the subject, drawing widespread attention and creating great controversy.
Surrounded by an excellent cast, particularly Oscar-nominated Laura Linney, Neeson gives his best performance yet as the idiosyncratic Kinsey. His portrayal makes you forget that you're watching the actor who played such historic figures as Oskar Schindler and Michael Collins. It's surprising, then, that he wasn't nominated for an Academy Award, but that may have to do with the subject matter of the film.
Condon's movie doesn't shy away from shocking audiences with Kinsey's outlook on sex, but it's not very graphic and it does take care to place all actions within the realm of responsibility. Kinsey is portrayed as liberal, but not amoral. At one point he contradicts an interviewee who wrongly believes that he advocates doing whatever you want. While he advocates sexual experimentation among his researchers (O'Donnell, Sarsgaard and Hutton) Kinsey's take on sexual freedom is that no one should get hurt.
It's not always easy to tell when the action is taking place here and audiences may get confused about when things happen, particularly if you know very little about Kinsey's life. The fact that costumes and surroundings don't change and that Neeson and Linney don't age much adds to this problem.
Another issue is the flippancy with which some of the characters talk about and refer to sex. More reserved audiences may have a problem with the scientific, experimental view Kinsey and his associates have of their subject, because it excludes the notion of love for the most part, but this is overall an enjoyable, interesting and well-acted piece.