Sex, It Turns out, Isn't Just Biology; 'Kinsey' a Candid Look at Groundbreaking Scientist, Research

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Soergel, The Times-Union

In Kinsey, Liam Neeson gives a wryly funny, deeply moving performance as Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey, the zoologist who turned from his obsessive study of the gall wasp to an equally obsessive study of humans and sex.

He's such the focused, nonjudgmental scientist -- it's facts, not morality, that interest him -- that at first it's all the same. Wasps or humans. It doesn't matter to this single-minded researcher.

But of course it does matter.

And Bill Condon's Kinsey, with unblinking compassion, shows how Kinsey's work changed him, just as his studies were changing how America thought about sex -- as well as what America knew about sex. "Does suppressing sex lead to st-st-stuttering?" one poor fellow asks Kinsey.

Kinsey, opening Christmas Day at AMC Regency, covers a lot of material in less than two hours. It moves nimbly -- perhaps at the expense of some depth -- through the story, set mostly in the '40s and '50s.

We watch as Kinsey meets and marries the intellectually inquisitive Clara (a mischievous and empathetic Laura Linney), both of them virgins, well into their 20s. We see him offer advice to married students about sex, which leads to a popular "marriage" course at Indiana University, which then leads to his groundbreaking research.

And we watch him train his researchers, played by Peter Sarsgaard, Chris O'Donnell and Timothy Hutton, to get candid answers out of ordinary Americans: Straight Americans, gay Americans, bisexual Americans, whites and blacks.

The film is, as it should be, remarkably frank about sex. And it turns darker as it shows how their work changed Kinsey and his researchers. They began having sex with their subjects as part of the research, having sex with their colleagues' spouses and even having sex with each other.

It changes them. …

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