KINSEY, an enthralling 118-minute delve into SEX!, and a still-controversial man who helped us think about it (like, more?) is a rewarding watch, though for those single people locked down by the pandemic, cut off from coupling and wondering if the last time you had sex was the last time ever will have it, the 2004 biodrama seen anew in the uncertain vision of 2020 has an added level of poignancy (irony/frustration/bitterness). A job that deserves a hand.
Written & directed by Bill Condon (Gods And Monsters), the story takes in the life and work of Alfred Kinsey, 1894-1956, the entomologist who changed up from 20 years of studying gall wasps to launching a pioneering late 1940s look at sexuality (American style), tantalizing and/or scandalizing the country out of its missionary positioning around the subject and pulling back the green door’s curtain on how we did “it”, who with, how often and why. The horizons of the Horizontal Bop beckon, and the flesh is weak. Thankfully, some of us hold firm.
Impassioned performances from Liam Neeson as the driven doctor, and Laura Linney (Oscar nominated, Supporting Actress) as his loyal, long-suffering wife, galvanize the handsomely filmed drama with the type of urgent honesty that’s a hallmark of their respective resumes. Condon’s script not only takes the modern era’s expected liberal attitude to the breadth of sexual experience and the emotional and psychological cost of ignorance and repression, it also feels ‘free’ to indulge the age-old open-ended tack of playing hide-the-whatever with chronology and the sort of untidy facts that might make the presentation more unsavory than uplifting. We’re all for liberating sensuality and adult playtime from the shackles of stupidstition imposed by religious fanatics and piety-posing politicians, but an objective post-mortem on some of the less-altruistic methodology and “testing” done by Al & Pals shows more warts (yes, those kind, too) than the clever screenplay dares admit. Your cue, insatiable’s: do some easy background research. Then, submerged Puritan guilt assuaged, party like it’s 2029.
Reviews were mostly quite good, with the nay-sayers mainly taking issue with what was left out. Done for $11,000,000, it grossed $17,050,000, ranking 139th for the year.
Neeson and Linney are backed by a formidable supporting cast: Peter Sarsgaard, Chris O’Donnell, John Lithgow, Oliver Platt, Timothy Hutton, Tim Curry, Dylan Baker, William Sadler, Lynn Redgrave, John Kasinski, Julianne Nicholson, John McMartin, Veronica Cartwright, Katherine Houghton, David Harbour, Arden Myrin.