Catch Kinsey

Movie Review

I loved the movie “Kinsey” almost as much as I hate the period of American life, the 1950s, in which the critical part of the movie is set. “Kinsey” is exquisitely well made, and the acting at all levels is excellent.

Liam Neeson is being hyped for an Oscar in the title role, but I can’t imagine that Laura Linney, as Mrs. Kinsey, would not be nominated as well. For Kinsey’s research team, they cast Chris O’Donnell and Timothy Hutton, among others. Master actor John Lithgow has a small but pivotal role, as does Tim Curry. It would be hard to imagine a better team.

Survivors of the 1950s remember that Dr. Alfred Kinsey was the target of censors, a martyr of the anti-communist witch-hunt, and the butt of smutty jokes. He began his sex research at a time when nothing was known and all manner of crazy and harmful ideas were assumed to be true.

In the movie, Kinsey tells his college students that a repressed urge becomes an obsession. He is talking about sexual urges, but the allusion could just as easily have been applied to workaholic Kinsey himself as it relates to his obsession with research. The movie implies that he worked himself into an early grave. From the dates given, it appears that he didn’t live to be 60. Worse still, he didn’t live to see a period in America when real scientific contributions, such as his, overcame religious hysteria to find the acceptance and appreciation they fully deserve.

— Jim Lane