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The Human Stain
The Human Stain
Actors: Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, Ed Harris, Gary Sinise, Wentworth Miller
Director: Robert Benton
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense, African American Cinema
R     2004     1hr 46min

Academy Award(R) winners Anthony Hopkins (1991 Best Actor, THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS) and Nicole Kidman (2002 Best Actress, THE HOURS) along with Gary Sinise (FORREST GUMP) and Ed Harris (THE HOURS) star in the provocative ...  more »
     
     

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Movie Details

Actors: Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, Ed Harris, Gary Sinise, Wentworth Miller
Director: Robert Benton
Creators: Andre Lamal, Bob Weinstein, Eberhard Kayser, Gary Lucchesi, Harvey Weinstein, Nicholas Meyer, Philip Roth
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense, African American Cinema
Sub-Genres: Love & Romance, Mystery & Suspense, African American Cinema
Studio: Miramax
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Dubbed,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 07/20/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 46min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 3
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: Spanish, French
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Member Movie Reviews

Nancy N. from DEERFIELD, NH
Reviewed on 12/28/2009...
A haunting story about an older man and younger woman - troubled and troubling
2 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

POIGNANT THEME, GREAT ACTING, COULD HAVE BEEN DONE DIFFERENT
Shashank Tripathi | Gadabout | 11/03/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Benton (of "Kramer vs. Kramer" or "Places in the Heart" acclaim) has always made movies with themes on the subtlest emotional vectors. If you've read the marvellous but somewhat un-adaptable book by the same name (Phillip Roth's "The Human Stain") you'll know what I am talking about and in that case, watch the movie without any expectations of seeing a loyal adaptation because this isn't. If you are not familiar with Roth's book, the movie's spinal theme may be racial prejudice, but it is really the story of a man deciding, late in life, to love the unknown what is beyond books, pride, even self. To learn that lesson is to turn a stain into a blessing.Stylistically, I felt the theme could have been dealt with in a somewhat smarter way. Without giving too much away, the "scandal" at the heart of the movie really gets very little screen time which helps diminish its importance in comparison with Coleman's past. But we see so little of it that it belittles its own thematic importance, and the movie spends a great deal of energy setting up storylines and elements that get little eventual payoff. This is why I say the novel was a bit difficult to adapt. Following Coleman's life all the way along, not just its beginning and end, could have made the movie work better as a movie; so could exposing his secret to the world of the film instead of just to the audience. At one point, Coleman's sister says doing just that would have instantly cleared up all the scandal and misunderstanding. Wrong. It would have made everything much more complicated, much more textured, much less black-and-white. As it is, we are left with a movie about two people whose lives have already ended clinging to each other for comfort. But the cast alone is something I'd go rushing into the theatres for: Hopkins, Kidman, Harris. Hopkins' acting here is a slow, painful flowering, and Kidman, who late in the film has a long dialog delivered with such musical delicacy that it becomes an aria of regret and self-apprehension. In sum, despite my gripes with the handling of the film, this is a film you HAVE to see. I'll go as far as to say that it's worth owning a DVD of."
Phillip Roth's Final Trilogy Tale Comes To Life On Screen
Sheila Chilcote-Collins | Collinswood, Van Wert, OH USA | 09/28/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Phillip Roth's final tale in his trilogy, "The Human Stain" is set in the summer of The Year Of Our Lord, 1998. Otherwise known as "Impeachment Summer", during which the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky accusations took place, The Starr Report was released, and the whole sordid story of the infamous stained dress was on the lips of everyone, so to speak.

The film is told in flashback sequences with the narrator of the tale, writer and friend of main character, Coleman Silk's. His name is Nathan Zuckerman (a fabulous Gary Sinese). Incidentally, the character of Nathan Zuckerman is the author, Phillip Roth's alter-ego and is throughout the trilogy of novels.

Coleman Silk, played adeptly by Sir Anthony Hopkins, is a 71 year-old college professor at small New England Athena College. Coleman is wrongfully accused of racial slurs against a couple of absent pupils and loses his tenured position. This shocking news sends his beloved wife into sickness and before long, she succumbs...

If only his family, friends and all the people that Coleman Silk has touched throughout their lives knew the REAL story, such charges would have never been brought about in the first place.

Silk gets lonely and depressed quite quickly, finds the wonderful drug just produced by the name of Viagra and meets the illiterate but beautiful school janitor, Faunia Farley, played by Nicole Kidman. Faunia might be illiterate but she has graduated with honors from "The School Of Hard Knocks", both figuratively and literally by her Vietnam vet abusive husband Lester, played excellently by Ed Harris. Coleman and Faunia have a torrid affair with the whole New England town buzzing about the goings on. As they get closer and share with one another, Faunia's past is almost as shocking as Coleman's. In the final scenes of the film, all secrets are exposed...

Many critics said that the movie script itself was a masterpiece but it was grossly miscast with Hopkins and Kidman in the main roles. I disagree only because there are very few actors that could genuinely and convincingly portray the characters, let alone, carry a heavy drama such as this. The only actor that I could come up with for a recast on Coleman would be Frank Langella, in part because the physical characteristics of Coleman could have been a bit more believable to the viewer.

I must also mention the two actors who play an integral role in the flashback sequences of Coleman's youth. A terrific Wentworth Miller as Young Coleman Silk and an adequate Jacinda Barrett (from MTV's Real World London Cast) in a nice turn as young Coleman's college days lover, Steena Paulsson.

Once watching the movie, you will understand the many significant meanings of the title, "The Human Stain". Not only the stain of the original sin into which all of us are born, but the stain of hate, hurt, pain, racism, pacifism and yes, even love and death.

I highly recommend "The Human Stain" despite it's theatrical release mixed reviews and unfortunate lackluster box office draw.

Happy Watching!
"
The Heartbreaking Chaos Of The Human Condition
A Viewer and Reader | Frankfort MI USA | 12/22/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a film that is a masterpiece not only for what it says but in the way it says it.

We have a man who looks white but is black, pretends to be a Jew, and lives a life of deception. We have a woman with a background that gives her every advantage but she is destroyed because she was molested as a child due to her ravishing beauty. At the very moment when these two finally find peace in each other's arms they are wiped out by the insanity of evil.

Coleman's story unfolds in a series of perplexing flashbacks that leaves the viewer confounded until we finally discover that Coleman Silk and the black boxer are one and the same. Faunia's story is equally confusing. It is unreasonable that this utterly gorgeous young woman is so casually willing to give herself sexually to a rejected Viagra dependant old man. Why is she merely scraping out a living for herself sweeping floors and feeding cattle when you sense that she has so much more to offer? What horror has brought her to this state of despair? As her story unfolds in her final soliloquy with a caged crow we find that she is so haunted by the blame she feels for the accidental death of her children, while she was distracted with a lover, that she is suicidal, emotionally detached, and devastated.

Into this mix vengeance pursues Faunia in the form of her ex-husband, a tortured Viet Nam vet for whom killing has become a casual exercise. Lester Farley is a clever mixture of blind fate and conscious hate that only the writer, Zuckerman, ultimately understands and reveals to the world.

What makes this film so artfully intriguing is the way the story unfolds in its seemingly chaotic fashion reflecting the chaos of the human condition the film is describing, and it is a story that is hard to take because it rings so heartbreakingly true. The acting by the principals, Hopkins, Kidman, Sinise, Harris,and Miller is utterly outstanding in every way, and the film deserves repeated viewings from that standpoint alone. As for the story itself, it takes a couple of viewings with patience and reflection to fully appreciate its authentic depths. Finally, in an ironic way, one might take comfort from Coleman's and Faunia's deaths that the moment at which they died was the moment at which they had reached fulfillment with each other.

"