Movie Review by Jonathan Harvey
Starring: Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Chris O’Donnell, Peter Sarsgaard
Director: Bill Condon
Professor Alfred Kinsey changed many people’s thinking about sex and relationships with his 1948 book ‘Sexual Behaviour of the Human Male’. He also sparked a media frenzy and his research wasn’t just groundbreaking but brought him global fame. Now writer/director Bill Condon brings his story to the big screen in this thought-provoking and emotional biopic.
Kinsey might not be the most obvious man to make a movie about, but what makes this film work so well is how Condon weaves together the professor’s fascinating public work with his own personal life and how his findings impact on his own love life with college sweetheart ‘Mac’. As his scientific approach to sex suggests that extra-marital sex is not only widespread but even natural, he becomes embroiled in an affair himself, with his male assistant Clyde. Things become yet more complicated when, again following Kinsey’s own beliefs, Mac and Clyde also later decide to have sex. While all this is going on, Kinsey has to fight to get the second volume of his studies published, against a rising tide of anger against his radical views.
Underpinning this gripping drama are some wonderful performances, most notably from Liam Neeson, who can feel disappointed for missing out on an Oscar nomination for his touching portrayal of Kinsey, and Laura Linney as Mac, who unlike Neeson has had a nod from the Academy. Fine support comes from John Lithgow as Kinsey’s domineeering father and the always excellent Peter Sarsgaard as Kinsey’s assistant Clyde.
Condon too deserves credit for a fine screenplay sensitively handled by his direction, allowing the characters room to breathe and time for the audience to really get to know, and care, about them.
Whatever the film makes you think about sex and relationships, Kinsey’s greatest strength is that at least it certainly will get you thinking, and matching the strong issue-based script is a story that’s always entertaining and well worth a watch.