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Chicago fest will open with Kinsey

The 40th Chicago International Film Festival will kick it off with KINSEY,
the new film by Bill Condon starring Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Chris O'Donnell, Peter Sarsgaard, Timothy Hutton, John Lithgow, Tim Curry, Oliver Platt, Dylan Baker.

Thursday, October 7th at the Chicago Theatre

The film fresh from its Toronto VIACOM GALAS premiere is quite remarkable: a star-studded, glossy Hollywood film about Alfred Kinsey, a man who was once considered among the most dangerous figures in post-war America. He paved the way for the sexual revolution with his landmark studies of sexual behaviour; a biologist, he put human sexuality – then seen almost exclusively as a matter of morality – under the microscope with scientific objectivity and a firm belief in the liberating potential of human diversity.

This playfully romantic epic opens with Kinsey (Liam Neeson) role-playing as an interview subject, training his loyal assistants to elicit truthful information without being judgmental. He describes his youth: raised by a preacher at the turn of the century, he was a wounded boy who found joy in nature. The film dramatizes his maturation as a scholar, the revolutionary course on marriage he taught at Indiana University and his blossoming relationship with his student Clara (Laura Linney), who becomes his intellectual foil and lifelong companion. While Clara identifies as a free spirit, Kinsey’s growing obsession with sexology constantly forces her to reassess her emotions as well as her politics.

Witty montages condense Kinsey’s thousands of interviews with ordinary Americans – many of whom had never before spoken openly about their sex lives – and his enormous social and political impact. His famous findings greatly discredited traditional puritan ethics, because widespread sexual behaviours could no longer be considered deviant. “The crime of all,” said Kinsey, “is the crime of none.”

Director Bill Condon’s success lies in his expert synthesis of melodrama, cutting humour and progressive politics, which add up to a universal story of triumph over adversity. Part of Kinsey’s pleasure comes from the surprise of hearing Americans in the forties speak so frankly about sex and the film itself is equally candid. It shatters taboos and stereotypes while contextualizing sexual repression within the generalized fear of difference that characterized the era. Neeson is picture-perfect as the dissident but delicate workaholic Kinsey, while Linney’s warmth and wit as Clara is vibrant. The good doctor’s enthusiasm for life is contagious. Viewers are sure to leave the theatre with a new appreciation for this inspiring activist – and a twinkle in the eye.

Bill Condon was born in New York City and graduated with a degree in philosophy from Columbia University. He won an Academy Award® for best adapted screenplay for Gods and Monsters (98) and was nominated for the same award for Rob Marshall’s Chicago (02). Feature filmography: Sister, Sister (87), Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh (95), Gods and Monsters (98) and Kinsey (04).

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