Alfred Kinsey is his character. After seeing "Kinsey" I can't imagine anyone else better for the role. People usually say that, I know, but you couldn't possibly imagine anyone else playing the part, ever.
I think Neeson has a strong chance at winning an Oscar this year; as does Laura Linney, playing Kinsey's wife, a terrifically kind, warm woman trying to keep up with Kinsey's life, which moves along pretty fast. Too fast for her at times. These two performances are awesome, two of the actors' best, the Academy, and every other awards show, would have to be insane not to mention them.
Unfortunately, I don't think the rest of the movie is really up to par with the performances. Not to say it's bad, just that it fails to really interest us when Neeson or Linney aren't on screen which, fortunately, doesn't happen much.
The movie is about Alfred Kinsey, who pioneered the research on human sexuality. Neeson shows him as a strong man, but one with as many flaws as the gall wasps he collected, all buried deep beneath his drive and focus. Kinsey's studies proved some things, and let a lot of homosexuality and other deviances from the norm at the time out into the open. I'd just like to say that I agree with some of his studies, I like that he unlocked the way uptight supposed "morality" of the masses think that any sexual behavior other than the missionary position is both unhealthy and immoral.
How they thought that I don't know, but I admire Kinsey for proving them wrong. Other things I do not agree with, like Kinsey's studies on the time it takes really young children to reach orgasm and Kinsey's way of thinking that sex on its basic level should have no emotional attachment; I think I can say that these things are ethically wrong without feeling ignorant. But I won't be biased against the quality of the film because of this. I will speak of the technique of how it was made: I liked how the movie began: It is inter-cut with scenes from Kinsey's youth: Kinsey facing temptation with masturbation, and having trouble with his insanely strict father John Lithgow.
Lithgow's first scene, where he speaks of the temptation and evil caused by zippers, electricity and ice cream parlors is the film's first problem. This problem is carried throughout the movie, and Lithgow is seen as such a monster that we feel no sympathy for his character in a later scene showing his inner weakness and tragic past, the scene feels thrown in and very foreign to the rest of the movie.
I think the opening scenes, with Kinsey and Clara first falling for each other, and his proposal and collection of gall wasps, are the movie's best, I believe. Once Kinsey starts his research on sex I think the movie becomes a bit conventional. We get the usual scenes such as Kinsey alienated from his family, Kinsey receiving trouble from his financial backers, Clara feeling alienated from Kinsey, and so on.
Of course, most of the time we watch eagerly, because Neeson and Linney are awesome, but we still have that itching feeling that the film isn't as special as Ebert says. What I mean is, after decades of biopics, especially this year; a biopic has to be more than conventional. Unless the lead character is amazing and extremely watchable, like in "Ray", the film needs to show us something new. I mean, when you see a biopic, you pretty much know the lead is going be alienated from his family, obsessed with his work and full of inner demons.
So give us something else, please. The problem is, we hardly know any of these characters, so we are bored when they get into arguments because we don't feel that we know anything about them. When we find out that Martin is bisexual it comes as a surprise, but we react with a shrug. Sarsgaard's performance is surprisingly flat; that he's getting any buzz for awards surprises me. I'm giving the movie a seven simply because of the professionalism Neeson and Linney display on screen.
They are the acting pros; they wash the floor with the rest of the cast. The Academy voters will all be struck by lightning if either isn't mentioned. So see it for them, and about the rest, well, shrug.
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