Academy Award winner Bill Condon (GODS AND MONSTERS) turns the microscope on Alfred Kinsey in a portrait of a man driven to uncover the most private secrets of a nation. What begins for Kinsey as a scientific endeavor soon takes on an intensely personal relevance, ultimately becoming an unexpected journey into the mystery of human behavior.
Liam Neeson stars as Kinsey, who in 1948 irrevocably changed American culture with his book Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. Interviewing thousands of people about the most intimate aspects of their lives, Kinsey lifted the weight of secrecy and shame from a society in which sexual practices were mostly hidden. His work sparked one of the most intense cultural debates of the past century - a debate that rages on today.
Using the technique of his own famous sex interviews, KINSEY recounts the scientist's extraordinary journey from obscurity to global fame. Alfred Kinsey grows up the son of an engineering teacher and occasional Sunday school preacher (John Lithgow). Rebelling against the rigid piety of his home life, and drawn to the world of the senses, Kinsey becomes a Harvard-educated zoologist specializing in the study of gall wasps.
After being hired to teach biology at Indiana University, Kinsey meets and marries a witty, free-thinking female student, Clara McMillen (Laura Linney). In the course of his teaching he discovers an astonishing dearth of scientific data on sexual concerns and problems, he realizes that no one has done the clinical research that would yield reliable answers to their questions.
Inspired to explore the emotionally charged subject of sex from a strictly scientific point of view, Kinsey recruits a team of researchers, including Clyde Martin (Peter Sarsgaard), Wardell Pomeroy (Chris O'Donnell) and Paul Gebhard (Timothy Hutton). Over time they refine an interviewing technique which helps people to break through shame, fear, and guilt and speak freely about their sexual histories. Kinsey also attempts to create an open sexual environment among the team and their wives, encouraging them to 'swing' years before the sexual revolution of the 1960s.
When Kinsey publishes his Male study in 1948, the press compares the impact to that of the atom bomb. Soon Kinsey graces the cover of every major publication; he becomes the subject of songs and cartoons, editorials and sermons. But as the country enters the more paranoid Cold War era of the 1950s, Kinsey's follow-up study on women is seen as an attack on basic American values. The ensuing outrage and scorn causes Kinsey's benefactors to abandon him, just as his health begins to deteriorate. At the same time, the jealousies and acrimony caused by Kinsey's attempt to create a private sexual utopia threaten to tear apart the research team and expose them to unwelcome scrutiny.
Kinsey spends his last days in a vain attempt to secure funding. He dies in 1956, fearing that his life's work has been a failure. It is only through his contact with a final interview subject that he glimpses the positive effect he has had, and also begins to understand that the basic question of where sex ends and love begins is something that can never be completely answered by science.
KINSEY is written and directed by Bill Condon and stars Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Chris O'Donnell, Peter Sarsgaard, Timothy Hutton, John Lithgow, Tim Curry, Oliver Platt and Dylan Baker. Gail Mutrux is the producer, with Michael Kuhn, Francis Ford Coppola, Bobby Rock and Kirk D'Amico serving as executive producers. Richard Guay is the co-producer.