Movie Review: Kinsey

It’s Pride Month, so now seems as apt a time as ever to review Kinsey, the wonderful biopic starring Liam Neeson. Released in 2004, Kinsey was a commercial and critical success, and it featured a star-studded cast. Is it just as good today as it was when I saw the movie in theaters back in 2004? Read on for my thoughts.

In 2004, when Kinsey was released, I was in my sophomore year of college. I was still taking core classes that were required of all students to graduate, including English and Math. After seeing Kinsey, I was inspired to enroll in Human Sexuality, and it wound up being my favorite class ever. Why? Because it blew the lid off a topic that most academic institutions, especially at the elementary and high-school level, simply want to ignore. If there’s two areas we need more education in, it’s sex and personal finance. But many people don’t think it’s proper to talk about sex and money, despite the fact that failing to do so can immeasurably hurt people and alter their life’s course in an irrevocable way. I’m of the mindset that we all would be happier and healthier if we knew how to handle money and sexuality. Think of all the pain and anguish that could be avoided. Dr. Alfred Kinsey felt the same way, as is made evident in this phenomenal piece of cinema.

Kinsey came out five years prior to Liam Neeson starring in Taken, an action movie that would forever change his career. While he’s excellent in those types of roles, I’ll take Liam Neeson in a dramatic, serious movie like Kinsey any day of the week over Taken because those movies, especially with each subsequent sequel, devolved into a caricature of what made the original so potent.

In addition to Liam Neeson, Kinsey features Laura Linney, John Lithgow, Tim Curry, Peter Sarsgaard, Timothy Hutton, Oliver Platt, Chris O’Donnell, and Lynn Redgrave, among others. All of these actors’ unique talents add to Kinsey, which was beautifully written and directed by Bill Condon. This film came out several years prior to Tim Curry’s tragic stroke, so it’s wonderful seeing him in his dastardly glory. John Lithgow, a brilliant actor in his own right, shines as Kinsey’s father, providing us with a glimpse into the troubled relationship between father and son and their influence on one another. Laura Linney and Peter Sarsgaard are resplendent in their complex roles, delivering nuanced performances.

The most stirring scene in the entire movie (see above) features Lynn Redgrave. I don’t want to spoil it for you because my words won’t be able to do it justice. Just watch it (preferably as part of the entire movie) and do your best not to get choked up. All of us wonder if we’re making a positive difference in this world, if our lives really matter. At a moment of weakness, Kinsey encountered this woman played by Redgrave, and her experiences and gratitude drove home the importance of his work.

Alfred Kinsey was a pioneer and a genius who produced landmark scientific research in multiple fields. He was ahead of his time, one of the most influential figures in the study of human sexuality, and someone worthy of examination. Liam Neeson was the perfect actor for this role, and the supporting cast elevates the film to an even higher level. While Kinsey, like all of us, was flawed, his work matters. He sought out to show that there’s no such thing as normal because what’s widely considered to be abnormal is what’s most common. He shone a blinding light on a taboo topic and did so in a way that shook up the entire world. This Pride Month, I encourage you to watch Kinsey to gain a greater understanding of this man, yourself, and those around you. To quote a Dionne Warwick song, “Love’s the answer. It’s still the answer, just like it always was.”

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