Editor's note: This R-rated film is very frank in its discussions about sexuality, and this review thus includes some sexual terminology that some readers might find offensive.

There are two ways to handle a highly controversial issue, especially when you are looking at the form it took several decades ago, before our culture had settled into its current attitudes and assumptions. For example, you could go the route of Vera Drake, Mike Leigh's exquisitely detailed and complex study of abortions both legal and illegal in 1950s England; while Leigh himself has said that he is pro-choice, his film does not adopt any particular stance on the issue, and indeed, he even gives us room to wonder just how naive the title character is and how much harm she may be causing.

Or you could go the route of Kinsey, Bill Condon's triumphalist depiction of the sexologist whose studies of human sexual behavior shocked and outraged post-war America. Rather than cause any similar disturbance to present-day audiences, the film mocks the sexual attitudes of the past from a safe distance while flattering us for our supposed sexual enlightenment, and it recounts in detail Alfred Kinsey's battles against sexual prudery—is this really a pressing issue nowadays?—while minimizing some of his more unsettling "scientific" methods.

The film begins at the turn of the 20th century, as Kinsey's Methodist father (John Lithgow) preaches a stern message against the perils of the modern age; phones, cars, and moving picture shows have all contributed to a decline in morals, he says. Kinsey himself is a boy scout who, together with his friends, is not quite sure what to make of the medically iffy advice their manuals have given them on the subject of masturbation ...

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Our Rating
3 Stars - Good
Average Rating
(not rated yet)ADD YOURSHelp
Mpaa Rating
R (for pervasive sexual content, including some graphic images and descriptions)
Directed By
Bill Condon
Run Time
1 hour 58 minutes
Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Chris O'Donnell, Peter Sarsgaard
Theatre Release
January 07, 2005 by Fox Searchlight Pictures
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