It's hard to overstate Kinsey's impact on American culture. While I agree that his contributions are beyond significant and that his is a story worth telling, I still have far too many inhibitions to be objective in my review of this explicit and controversial movie. Kinsey the film, much like Kinsey the man, is sometimes disturbing but always interesting.
Good parts played by Neeson, Linney and O?Donnell and thought in particular the make up envolving the aging of the characters were done particularly well.
A tale with perhaps an underlying moral, that was quite a controversial story of it?s time.
There's not a whole lot of meat to this biopic, so a runtime that falls just short of two hours sounds perfectly reasonable, and as sure as sunshine, the final product is pretty tight in plenty of places, yet there are plenty of points where that tightness slips, and the ensuing unevenness in pacing is mighty disconcerting, with slow moments being rarely, if ever dull, but rather cold and aimless, with a certain blandness and sense of repetition that, before too long, distances your attention as surely as the relatively hurried spells go so far as to dilute your investment. An arguably more recurring extreme in problematic moments in pacing, hurrying is often easy to miss, as it often feels too intentional to be all that detrimental to the tightness that perhaps still stands firm on the whole, but when briskness in momentum really gets carried away, there's no missing it, as it thins out moments of exposition and occasionally simply throws you off with its slapdashing the progression in this telling of a man's life and times. Pacing inconsistency doesn't really sound like a big deal, but this film is so tight in plenty of areas that the fair deal of occasions in which that tightness lapses are glaring, and yet, outside of pacing issues, not much is consequentially wrong with this film, thus the biggest issues with the final product are natural ones. The film would not be as good as it ultimately very much is if it didn't have an intriguing story, so there's certainly a good bit of meat on the bones upon which this project is built, yet only so much, as the characters are kind of bland, the narrative is kind of aimless and the conflict is pretty thin, never to where you completely fall out of this character study, but certainly to where you end up with a final product that was never to pick up too much momentum, though would have at least stood a chance if its execution didn't also fail to pick up all that much momentum. Director Bill Condon is clearly inspired with his handling of this reasonably intriguing project, as reflected in his sustaining a fair bit of compellingness and often delivering on the occasionally major pick-up in atmospheric kick, but on the whole, the atmospheric structure that he builds around this execution of a somewhat thin story concept, while sharp, rarely shifts, especially if you disregard the inconsistencies within a pacing that most definitely changes, and jarringly so, thus leaving storytelling's focus to meander along a relatively straightforward course and gradually lose momentum as it falls slave to the aforementioned natural shortcomings. I must admit, the film starts out subtly, but undeniably very strong, and I found myself very excited to see the directions Condon would take this tale, but Condon ultimately barely does much with this promising, if natural blemished opus, thus I grew too used to the feel of the film to ignore the pacing problems and natural issues which, while not enough to shake the film out of a rewarding state, leave the final product to lose the strength it seemed to have a firm grasp on early on. That being said, the fact of the matter is that this film has strong high points to break up consistent compellingness, which goes challenged time and again, but ultimately powers on upon the shoulders of sharpness, even in the musical department.
Pacing unevenness is perhaps the most frequent and is certainly the most noticeable form of inconsistency within this film, but if nothing else is tainted with unevenness, then it is, of all things, the prominence of Carter Burwell's score, which will be pretty well-focused upon for long periods of time, then dropped for the sake of moderately lengthy dry, or at least quieter spells, yet is prominent enough throughout the film for you to kind of get used to it and not appreciate as you would like to, which isn't to say that Burwell's efforts aren't still highly commendable, having a certain classical soul, bonded tightly with a sense of narrative structure that flavors up both the entertainment value and resonance of this film with many a lovely composition, a fair deal of which are quite memorable. Outside of the occasional decent moment in Frederick Elmes' cinematography, as well as nifty stylistic choices charged by director Bill Condon that I'll touch more upon later, there's really not much to this film's artistic value beyond the unevenly used and occasionally underwhelming score, but the high points in Burwell's musical efforts are truly heights within the artistic tastefulness that reflects of the final product's sharpness, which is, of course, most reflect in Bill Condon's script. Condon, even as screenwriter, doesn't keep kick to the structure of this film as dynamic as it needs to be in order for all that much strength to be sustained, but on the whole, his script is nothing if not impressive, having a certain audacious attention to the grimy details of this decidedly mature drama that may be pretty discomforting to many audience members, but reflects a lack of fear in storytelling that reinforces a sense of brightness, further reinforced by sharp dialogue and witty humor that punch up the mood, while generally thoughtful expository depth establish the mood. On paper, alone, Condon delivers on plenty of commendable beats for every moderate shortcoming, and when it comes to Condon's directorial execution of his written interpretation of the story of Alfred Kinsey, there are certainly more errors, so much so that too much steam is lost for considerable strength to be achieved like it could have been and almost is, but do note that the main reason why the film comes close to high strength in the first place is because of what Condon does very well as storyteller, playing with anything from atmospheric kick to even the snappiness of Virginia Katz's editing in order to keep liveliness up about as much as he can, while having his share of moments in which he steadies down to meditate upon the depth of this story and deliver on compellingness, maybe even a height in what resonance there can be in a film this thin. Natural shortcomings dictate that Condon was never to be able to carry this film too far, and hiccups in Condon's directorial efforts ultimately solidify the final product as not as strong as it seemingly wants to be, but on the whole, this is still an intriguing story, and Condon's execution is nothing if not fairly well-done, breathing a life into this study on a human who made a living studying humans that is pretty compelling, especially when backed by compelling acting. Considering the thinness of this subject matter, there's not a whole lot of acting material, which is unfortunate, considering the blandness within certain key characters, but this is still a talented cast, from which plenty of people have his or time to shine, though perhaps never as much as our leads, Liam Neeson and Laura Linney, who share electric chemistry and are both impressive by their own right, with Linney being about as convincing as a loving wife who grows to be disturbed by her husband's questionable lifestyle as the exceedingly charming Neeson is as Alfred Kinsey, an eccentric and brilliant visionary, but one with flaws and layers that Neeson effortlessly plays up with a human inspiration that makes Kinsey a compelling force through all of the conceptually bland areas to his portrayal in this film. Neeson proves to be a particularly engaging force in this film, but really, he's certainly not the only one, because while the film loses too much steam for its own good after a while, it never loses so much momentum that it loses your investment, keeping you both entertained and compelled to reward as flawed, but thoroughly intriguing.
In closing, inconsistent pacing leaves the film to dance between aimless slow spells and depth-thinning hurrying, while a considerable natural thinness to this minimalist drama, emphasized by a certain laziness in storytelling that keeps atmospheric kick from being as dynamic as it should be, leaves the final product to fall short of strong, but not so short that reward value cannot be achieved through the good score work, sharp writing, generally effective direction and compelling performances - particularly those of Laura Linney and Liam Neeson - that make "Kinsey" an intriguing and generally worthwhile ode to a man who defined modern views on human sexuality.
3/5 - Good
This is a solid 4 star film.