Time Out saysDr Alfred Kinsey was the first researcher to lift the lid on America’s motley sexual practices in the post-war period, and the revelations that spilled from his ‘Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male’ and ‘Sexual Behaviour in the Human Female’ are regarded as a key plank of the sexual revolution. That raises the question of where scientific study loses its detachment and becomes itself an agent of change, and certainly the country’s conservatives – ‘the forces of chastity’, as he has it here – have made much of supposed failings in both Kinsey’s professional methodology and his personal predilections, accusing him of not only ‘legitimising’ but also practising and inciting the diversity he claimed merely to record. ‘Life’s one irreducible fact,’ he called it, drawing on his training as a student of gall wasps.
Bill Condon’s biopic plays up that breach between the doctor’s less than dispassionate interest in his subject – he encouraged partner-swapping among his research team, and vexed his funders by documenting on film various forms of sex in his own attic – and his lab-coated aloofness from its emotional cargo, adhering to a ‘just the physiognomy, ma’am’ line of enquiry. It’s rich material, and of far from merely historical interest, particularly as the Christian right continues to mobilise. The shame is that the film doesn’t convey more mess or danger; its sex and its politics are almost entirely dinner-table-friendly. Leading man Liam Neeson, Laura Linney as Kinsey’s faithful missus and the rest of the cast are all eminently charismatic, but only Peter Sarsgaard ever communicates any uncontained pain. Condon’s script, especially, is airlessly neat with pointers, contrasts and parallels; it never breaks out of the box.
Fri Mar 4, 2005
Cast and crew
Liam Neeson, Timothy Hutton, Oliver Platt, Tim Curry, William Sadler, John Lithgow, Heather Goldenhersh, Lynn Redgrave, Dagmara Dominczyk, Julianne Nicholson, Peter Sarsgaard, Chris O'Donnell, Dylan Baker, Laura Linney