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Sunday, November 21, 2004


The new film Kinsey is the story of Indiana University Professor Alfred Kinsey who, after exhausting research on the gall wasp, turned his attention to the scientific study of human sexuality. The results of that research, which included extensive interviews with thousands of subjects and apparently even recording on film, led Kinsey, his associates, and eventually society as a whole to new understandings of sexuality. It helped foment the urge to question convention and to experiment to the extent that some have called him the father of the sexual revolution.

Kinsey reminds us of the boundaries society draws for us, and how we internalize them deeply without even really questioning. It asks us to both remember a time not so long ago when we were even more ignorant than today about our nature, and pushes us to wonder at the inhibitions and societal controls that keep us from exploring who we are today.

Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, and the rest of the cast generally turn in strong, convincing performances that are human and yet more willing to question and explore than many of us are. Timothy Hutton is hard to buy as a young researcher, but he and Chris O'Donnell play only minor roles, leaving plenty of time for Peter Sarsgaard's excellent work as Kinsey's assistant who helps him see where the research leads.

The folks who cast this movie have a real eye for irony. Anyone who remembers Tim Curry as Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture show will find it more than a bit amusing to see him playing the prude professor admonishing his students and anyone else who will listen to abstain from sex and to avoid sex for anything other than procreation in marriage. I know he's done a lot over the years, but I still have a certain image of him!

Well done; entertaining; thought provoking; and worth seeing.