22 November 2004


I saw Kinsey last night and came away feeling disturbed. This is not to say that it's a poor film, just that I had trouble sleeping afterwards—and perhaps that makes it an excellent film. I read a few comments by the director, Bill Condon, on the film's (disgracefully over-flash'd) website, and I found the following to sum up my feelings succinctly:

I've found that the film acts as a sort of litmus test for one's own ideas about sexuality. Kinsey was a very complex man, in some ways damaged beyond repair. I thought it was important to present it all, and let people form their own opinions.

The film indeed does an excellent job of simply presenting the facts and avoiding becoming the "judges of the behaviors we describe" as Kinsey himself puts it. This is part of what left me feeling unsettled: there was no tidying of the decidedly countercultural swinging ways of Kinsey and his crew. This is, of course, a good thing about the film—it elevates it above Hollywood fuzz and gives it the power to affect the viewer.

I was a little disappointed that they didn't delve more deeply into how Kinsey and his wife resolve some of the problems that arise from the increasing nexus of his work and his family life. By the end of the movie they seem to have reconciled everything but I have to suspect (hope?) that all of this promiscuity had a profound effect on their relationship. The historical record indicates that Kinsey's first volume (on the Human Male) was widely met with accolades, while the second (on the Human Female) was spurned. Is this because he pushed the envelope too far in separating sex from love? The film lets its viewers decide, and I think that's for the best.

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