Kinsey

2004

Kinsey

Critics Consensus

A biopic of the sex researcher is hailed as adventurous, clever, and subversive, with fine performances by Liam Neeson and Laura Linney.

90%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 195

75%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 34,214
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Movie Info

Alfred Kinsey was an entomologist who taught at Indiana University and had a keen interest in an area of human behavior that had seen little scholarly research -- human sexuality. While the courtship and reproductive patterns of animals had been carefully documented, Kinsey believed that most "established facts" about human sexual behavior were a matter of conjecture rather than research and that what most people said about their sex lives was not born out by the evidence (a subject that had personal resonance for him given the troubles he and his wife Clara Kinsey had in the early days of their marriage). After introducing a course in "Marriage" at Indiana University which offered frank and factual information on sex to students, Kinsey began an exhaustive series of interviews with a wide variety of people from all walks of life in order to find out the truth about sex practices in America. When he published Sexual Behavior and the Human Male in 1948, his findings were wildly controversial, indicating that most men had a wider variety of sexual experiences than most people imagined, including a number of practices commonly thought to be dangerous or perverted (including pre-marital sex, same-sex contacts, and masturbation). An even greater outcry greeted Kinsey's next volume, Sexual Behavior and the Human Female, which contradicted common notions than most women went into marriage sexually inexperienced. Kinsey is a film biography written and directed by Bill Condon which examines Kinsey's life and work from his strict childhood until his death in 1956. Liam Neeson plays Alfred Kinsey, and Laura Linney co-stars as Kinsey's wife and colleague Clara. John Lithgow highlights the supporting cast as Kinsey's repressed and moralistic father, while Chris O'Donnell, Peter Sarsgaard, and Timothy Hutton play members of Kinsey's research team and Tim Curry appears as an IU faculty member at odds with Kinsey's teachings. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Cast

Liam Neeson
as Alfred Kinsey
Laura Linney
as Clara McMillen
Chris O'Donnell
as Wardell Pomeroy
Peter Sarsgaard
as Clyde Martin
Timothy Hutton
as Paul Gebhard
John Lithgow
as Alfred Seguine Kinsey
Tim Curry
as Thurman Rice
Oliver Platt
as Herman Wells
Dylan Baker
as Alan Gregg
Julianne Nicholson
as Alice Martin
William Sadler
as Kenneth Braun
John McMartin
as Huntington Hartford
Kathleen Chalfant
as Barbara Merkle
Heather Goldenhersh
as Martha Pomeroy
Dagmara Dominczyk
as Agnes Gebhard
Harley Cross
as Young Man In Gay Bar
Lynn Redgrave
as Final Interview Subject
Benjamin Walker
as Kinsey At 19
Matthew Fahey
as Kinsey At 14
William Sadley
as Kenneth Braun
Will Denton
as Kinsey At 10
Susan Blommaert
as Staff Secretary
Romulus Linney
as Rep. B. Carroll Reece
Katharine Houghton
as Mrs. Spaulding
David Harbour
as Robert Kinsey
Judith J.K. Polson
as Mildred Kinsey
Leigh Spofford
as Joan Kinsey
Mike Thurstlic
as Kenneth Hand
Bill Buell
as Dr. Thomas Lattimore
Michele Federer
as Gall Wasp Class Coed
Alvin Keith
as Black Student
Amy Wilson
as Marriage Class Coed
Maryellen Owens
as Female Assistant Professor
Roderick Hill
as Clerical Worker
Peg Small
as Retired Teacher
Don Sparks
as Middle-Aged Businessman
Joe Zaloom
as Janitor
Kate Reinders
as Female Student #1
Mara Hobel
as Female Student #2
Lindsay Schmidt
as Female Student #3
Jason Patrick Sands
as Male Student #1
Marcel Simoneau
as Male Student #2
Bobby Steggert
as Male Student #3
John Pruitt
as Male Student #4
John Epperson
as Effete Man In Gay Bar
Jefferson Mays
as Effete Man's Friend
Mark Mineart
as Slavic Man
Martin Murphy
as Bartender
Kate Jennings Grant
as Marjorie Hartford
Barry Del Sherman
as IU Reporter #1
Fred Burrell
as IU Reporter #2
Michael Arkin
as NYC Reporter #1
Dan Ziskie
as NYC Reporter #2
Tuck Milligan
as NYC Reporter #3
Edwin J. McDonough
as Mr. Morrissey
John Ellison Conlee
as Bookstore Clerk
Arthur French
as Sharecropper
Chandler Williams
as Prison Inmate
Jaime Tirelli
as Hispanic Man
Draper Shreeve
as Ballet Teacher
Joseph Badalucco Jr.
as Radio Repairman
Doris Smith
as Old Woman
Reno
as Male Impersonator
Pascal Armand
as Young Black Woman
Sean Skelton
as Staff Photographer
Clifford David
as Professor Smithson
Randy Redd
as Student
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Critic Reviews for Kinsey

All Critics (195) | Top Critics (45) | Fresh (175) | Rotten (20)

Audience Reviews for Kinsey

  • Oct 09, 2013
    Watch it your self and make your own mind.
    NaWie M Super Reviewer
  • Jul 15, 2013
    Man, as if the kiss of death wasn't kind of awkward seeming enough, Francis Ford Coppola is back to co-produce this delightful, family-friendly tale about a bunch of bi guys talking about more than just kissing. Oh, it's pretty much the same thing, because Liam Neeson is so awesome that he could probably kill a man with a kiss... and I, you know, mean that in a totally manly, heterosexual sort of way, though I'm kind of doubtful that Chris O'Donnell would mean it in the same way. O'Donnell might not be playing gay in this film, but "Batman & Robin" was pretty fruity, and O'Donnell still has the audacity to be in this film about a bisexual pioneer of sexology the same year he makes a guest appearance on "Two and a Half Men" as a woman who becomes a man, so either the man's trying to tell us a little something-something, or the reason why he was in this film a year before "Batman Begins" came out (Pun not intended) was because he wanted to meet Ra's al Ghul before Bruce Wayne. Speaking of which, Neeson is such a convincing actor that he must have anticipated that people would assume that he was bisexual after this film, which is why 2005 was his big year to show off just how manly he is with roles that included Batman's trainer in "Batman Begins", a lion god in "The Chronicles of Narnia", a warrior baron in "Kingdom of Heaven" and the priest of... a transvestite Cillian Murphy in "Breakfast on Pluto". Okay, well, on the whole, Neeson's film choices in after this one weren't all that fruity, and I wish I could say the same thing about Bill Condon's film choices, because he earned acclaim for this LGBT film and "Gods and Monsters", and somewhere along the way, he ended up doing the last two "Twilight" films. Well, at least Condon knocked out a couple of good gay films, including this one, and yet, with that said, this film stands to be more "fabulous", and no just because its main character is only half-gay. 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
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Nov 25, 2012
    I enjoyed watching this film. It's blunt and honest with it's themes of sexuality, the character Alfred Kinsey was a mad, obssessed, and controversial man teaching about gall wasps and later researching society's sexual activity. I loved the scene where Kinsey talks in front of a large audience and he reminds the class of sexual behaviors, obsession, how everyone wants to be the same sexually and yet Kinsey states everyone at heart is different. I think Woody Allen said it best..."The heart wants what the heart wants". The performances are spectacular. Liam Neeson does a great job of playing Kinsey, Peter Saarsgard as Kinsey's assistant, he's great and I admired the close relationship they have for each other, Laura Linney is also great and I liked the scene where Kinsey's assistant asks to have intercourse with her in which she responds..."Yes. I'd like that". There is also Chris O'Donnell, Oliver Platt, Timothy Hutton, John Lithgow, and Tim Curry. Today, I don't think there is anything taboo regarding sexuality. We've all in one way or another, experienced it, the goods, the bads, the fantasies (Oh I sure had my share of perverted sexual thoughts), and the kinky. Some have even experimented with the same sex or have had intercourse with multiple people all at the same time. Back in Kinsey's era, that wouldn't have been the norm with society but it's amazing now how the world has changed since... Do we have Kinsey to thank for breaking down sexual taboos? Maybe but I was also thinking of Masters & Johnson, Sue Johanson, and Dr Ruth.
    Brian R Super Reviewer
  • Oct 23, 2012
    It was interesting to learn about the man I had heard about so often in my college courses. His work was revolutionary and so important.
    Erin C Super Reviewer

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