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In 1948 Kinsey irrevocably changed American culture and created a media sensation with his book Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. Asking thousands of people about the most intimate aspects of their lives, Kinsey lifted the weight of doubt and shame from a society in which sex was hidden, and knowledge was dangerous. His work sparked one of the most intense cultural debates of the past century – a debate that rages on today.
PROFANITY: 3 F-words, 1 S word, 1 GD, a few others. SEX/NUDITY: Sex and related nudity; nonstop graphic sex talk. VIOLENCE: A brief fight. DRUGS/ALCOHOL: Alcohol and tobacco use. ACTION: None COMEDY: Some verbal sex humor.
The above rating is an average of the critic reviews below.
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Berardinelli, Internet CriticFull Review Good For those who aren't put off by a movie whose sexual frankness knows few boundaries, "Kinsey" has much to recommend itself. This is a fine motion picture with a couple of superlative performances. It is arguably the best, most honest bio-pic of the year, and is certainly worth the price of admission.
USA TodayFull Review Very Good "Kinsey" tails off just a little toward the end, but it's one of the year's better movies. Linney is a match for Neeson, and the only thing that might keep Lithgow from getting a supporting-Oscar nomination is the brevity of the part.
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Using the technique of his own famous sex interviews, KINSEY (Liam Neeson) recounts the scientist's
extraordinary journey from obscurity to global fame. Alfred Kinsey grows up the son of an engineering
teacher and occasional Sunday school preacher (John Lithgow). Rebelling against the rigid piety of his
home life, and drawn to the world of the senses, Kinsey becomes a Harvard-educated zoologist
specializing in the study of gall wasps.
After being hired to teach biology at Indiana University, Kinsey meets and marries a witty,
free-thinking female student, Clara McMillen (Laura Linney). In the course of his teaching he discovers an
astonishing dearth of scientific data on sexual behavior. When students seek him out for advice about
sexual concerns and problems, he realizes that no one has done the clinical research that would yield
reliable answers to their questions.
Inspired to explore the emotionally charged subject of sex from a strictly scientific point of view,
Kinsey recruits a team of researchers, including Clyde Martin (Peter Sarsgaard), Wardell Pomeroy (Chris
O'Donnell) and Paul Gebhard (Timothy Hutton). Over time they refine an interviewing technique which
helps people to break through shame, fear, and guilt and speak freely about their sexual histories. Kinsey
also attempts to create an open sexual environment among the team and their wives, encouraging them to
‘swing' years before the sexual revolution of the 1960s.
When Kinsey publishes his Male study in 1948, the press compares the impact to that of the atom
bomb. Soon Kinsey graces the cover of every major publication; he becomes the subject of songs and
cartoons, editorials and sermons. But as the country enters the more paranoid Cold War era of the 1950s,
Kinsey's follow-up study on women is seen as an attack on basic American values. The ensuing outrage
and scorn causes Kinsey's benefactors to abandon him, just as his health begins to deteriorate. At the same
time, the jealousies and acrimony caused by Kinsey's attempt to create a private sexual utopia threaten to
tear apart the research team and expose them to unwelcome scrutiny.
Kinsey spends his last days in a vain attempt to secure funding. He dies in 1956, fearing that his
life's work has been a failure. It is only through his contact with a final interview subject that he glimpses
the positive effect he has had, and also begins to understand that the basic question of where sex ends and
love begins is something that can never be completely answered by science.