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Friday, July 20, 2007

KINSEY (2004) - Bill Condon

Bill Condon's biopic, Kinsey, is a study of Professor Alfred Kinsey, an Indiana University teacher who embarked on the largest study of human sexual behavior ever undertaken. Kinsey was an entomologist, known for his studies of the gall wasp. He marries one of his students, Clara McMillen, and after a disaterous wedding night, Kinsey finds his true calling in life. The study and documentation of human sexual behavior. It's a controversial subject to take on in 1950's America, due to it's explicit nature. However, Kinsey approaches the subject from a very matter of fact point of view.

Kinsey sets about interviewing as much of the population of the United States as he can. He puts his subjects at ease, which makes them very open. And his findings, while frank and honest, are quite difficult for some people to digest. Kinsey's study becomes an obsession for him, putting him at odds with not just the newspapers, but also those close to him. However, he soldiers on, determained to create as detailed a study as he can.

Director Condon takes a very linear approach with this biopic, a method that is quite refreshing considering how some directors try to jazz up the flat nature of the biopic with directorial and structural tricks which can actually detract from the subject matter. There's a lot to cover, as Condon pretty much examines the entirety of Kinsey's life, from boyhood to old age. His cast, led by Liam Neeson as Alfred Kinsey and Laura Linney as Clara McMillen are key to carrying the story, and all performances (including a brilliant cameo by John Lithgow) are spot on. Naturally, the subject matter is in itself quite fascinating, but handled incorrectly, Kinsey could have been quite a boring film. However, Alfred Kinsey is a flawed man, and Condon doesn't shy away from this. Kinsey's single mindedness and his scientific approach to nearly all aspects of life makes him a little aloof and cold, but he's an interesting, if somewhat unknown character, at least in my generation. A very interesting subject matter handled very well.


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