Kinsey (2004) Review

It’s easy to forget that Liam Neeson is a really good, Oscar nominated actor who has starred in some really heavyweight films, the pinnacle of which is probably Schindler’s List. He is doing a fantastic job of developing into an action star, Taken, Unknown, A-Team and The Grey are all films that I really enjoyed. Kinsey is one of the movies that bridged that quiet gap between his heavyweight, acting roles to something slightly more “mainstream.”

It’s the perfect type of film for any actor to show off their acting skills. Neeson plays the real life professor, Alfred Kinsey, who pioneered the investigation into sexual behaviours between different genders, classes, and types of people. What makes his study impressive and worth a film, is the fact he was conducting this study at a time when people’s ideas about sex were seemingly archaic and misguided.

Kinsey gives Liam Neeson the opportunity to show off his acting ability.

The film does a great, if somewhat standard job of retelling the professor’s life and the struggles he faces. It’s great because it gives Neeson the freedom to demonstrate his acting ability, something that could very easily be forgotten in his new choice of roles. He gets to play an uptight, sexually ignorant man who then becomes obsessed with the very subject that seemed to cause him difficulty. Through to older age, Neeson gets to stretch his acting muscles and is pretty much flawless throughout.

It also helps that he is accompanied by great performances too. Laura Linney gets to go on as extensive and strenuous an acting journey as Neeson does, in her role as his wife, and shines as brightly as he does. They are also ably joined by Peter Sarsgaard who does a great job of picking roles, even though he does creepy and psychotic much better than level-headed professor’s aide.

The performances around Neeson are equally as brilliant.

It’s a testament to all the actors involved as they are part of telling quite a shocking story. The evidence found by Kinsey’s study is soon demonstrated by the people around him and this is, in some graphic detail, shown on-screen. Its feels like the film wanted to portray the shock that Kinsey delivered to the scientific world and wider public by trying to be as graphic and shocking as possible themselves.

Unfortunately, there isn’t really enough of this, or enough in the wider story, to keep the tale as interesting as it probably considers itself to be. Kinsey’s message is one that the general public adopt very readily today, and as interesting as the contrast and journey between then and now is, the tale of how we came to have the much wider views we do now is never really thrilling or gripping.

Great performances don’t stop this film feeling like it’s lacking any real punch or conviction.

The performances are never less than brilliant and the story is worth telling, it just lacks any real punch or interesting angle to keep the film pushing along at a worthwhile pace or convincing climax.

Overall, Kinsey effectively demonstrates how good an actor Lian Neeson is, something that could very easily be forgotten on the verge of him releasing Taken 2. The story is an interesting one but the film itself loses its pace or any real reason for the audience to maintain its focus as it reaches the end of Kinsey’s story.

Rating 2

(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)

Lets hope Neeson gets to balance his brilliant action hero roles with something like Kinsey, which shows off how good an actor he really is.
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