Rated R 2004

The most shocking thing about the first film from writer-director Bill Condon since 1998's Gods and Monsters is how shocking it actually is. Within the confines of a standard biopic, Condon refuses to play it straight -- which is only appropriate, since his subject was bisexual, condoned wife-swapping in the name of research, and was obsessed with the bedroom habits and hobbies of Americans. It's an affectionate, warm, and surprisingly funny movie, at least till the hordes of righteousness descend upon professor Alfred Kinsey (Liam Neeson) like locusts on a fertile field. Condon frames the movie like a Kinsey sex-info questionnaire: His story is revealed as a series of flashbacks, as Kinsey provides answers to probing questions posed by his assistants, including Clyde Martin (Peter Sarsgaard), Wardell Pomeroy (Chris O'Donnell), and Paul Gebhard (Timothy Hutton). Among the prof's students is Clara "Mac" McMillen (Laura Linney), who becomes his wife and research partner. The performances are remarkable, even those actors in the tiniest roles, and the movie feels as relevant as tomorrow's headlines.



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