Kinsey 2-Disc Special Edition(Fox Home Entertainment, 5.17.2005)
Few films released in recent years are as absolutely necessary as Bill Condon's Kinsey. Much like the man's research, the picture is a project shepherded to completion seemingly on sheer force of will, despite the objections of folks who would not hear its message, no matter how important, enlightening or liberating it might be. Even to the so-called open-minded denizens of Hollywood, the film is a challenge because it dares to look at sex in a way -- that is, scientifically -- that we seldom consider amidst the countless images of glamour gals and sexy studs.
But, then again, Kinsey was always interested in challenging the status quo, even when it meant outrage from the adversarial and increasingly powerful religious right. And the just-released 2-disc DVD of the film remonstrates his vision and releases to the comfort of one's own home -- away from prying eyes, if need be -- the necessary truths his research revealed.
Liam Neeson plays Kinsey with a fiery intensity and a sort of rigidity that suggests a very square peg that refused to fit quietly into a round hole. As a youth, his impression of sex acts were shaped by his father Alfred (John Lithgow), a minister who convinced his parish that modern technology led a path straight to hell ("cars brought about the existence of the roadside brothel," he rampages).
At the age of matriculation, Kinsey fled home for school where he researched gall wasps until he met Clara McMillan (Laura Linney), a student who shared, or at least appreciated, his passion for this kind of minutiae. After what may rank as the most awkward wedding-night consummation ever put on celluloid, Kinsey discovers the startling dearth of legitimate information about sex and re-directs his efforts to uncover the sometimes harsh realities of human sexual behavior.
On this 2-disc release, the presentation is superlative and preserved by separation of all extras save Bill Condon's commentary track. On disc 2, the extras include The Kinsey Report: Sex on Film, a feature-length documentary detailing the struggle to get the movie made. We also get 20 (!) deleted scenes with optional commentary by Condon, a gag reel, a short featurette about the Kinsey institute, and an interactive sex questionnaire. Of these bonus materials, the documentary is the most captivating, as it describes the adversity faced to finish the film, including conservative protestors and even more conservative studio investors.
Ultimately, Kinsey was undone by his own aggressive rhetoric. This was, after all, a man who knew everything about sex and nothing about intimacy and whose determination far outweighed his diplomacy. The film is not so hard-edged about his work. He is not painted as the patron saint of sexual freedom and, in fact, the film reveals that his personality was often every bit as intractable as those against whom he purported to fight.
Kinsey is a movie that understands that our own need for contact, cinematically speaking, extends beyond the limits of scientific findings. Through Kinsey, the audience has a conduit for sexual liberation. The film itself is a conduit for emotional catharsis. Together, we are left with the afterglow of a great man's accomplishments made mortal, evocative, and undeniably powerful. -- Todd Gilchrist