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 »mystery THE HUMAN STAIN. Coleman Silk (Hopkins) has a secret. A terrible 50-year-old secret that the esteemed college professor has kept hidden from everyone ? including his wife, his children, and his down-and-out young lover (Kidman) ? and it's about to ruin his entire life.« less
Nancy N. from DEERFIELD, NH Reviewed on 12/28/2009...
A haunting story about an older man and younger woman - troubled and troubling
3 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
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.
Good movie (if you're expecting a mediocre one.)
P. DAVIS | Pisgah Forest, NC United States | 11/14/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"So much of movie watching has to do with the hype, and therefore, expectations, surrounding a film. Since I had not heard much of this movie, I was surprised to find such an all star ensemble in an unheralded film. So I had the pleasure of simply watching it with no expectations, no book to compare it with, etc. The result was a compelling story of twisted lives coming to grips with themselves and their pasts. Nicole Kidman has to be one of the greatest actors of our generation, since she plays her white trailer trash role to perfection, accent and all. Anthony Hopkins use of subtle expression and understatement add tension and depth to the film. If you like complex, interwoven stories with good characters, you will like this film."
2 Hours of My Life Wasted
Anonymous | Anonymous | 07/24/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"So you put 4 talented, or I think it's safe to say extremely talented, actors together and what is supposed to happen?? Not this! I'm in shock at the complete dullness of that movie. Don't get me wrong, Nicole Kidman and Anthony Hopkins, in whatever movie they are in, give a great performance, but this could have been one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Sure, it may have been well shot with nice scenes and good acting, but what ever happened to a little something called a plot? By the end of the movie I was praying for it to be over. I didn't care if any of the actors died because I had no sympathy for any of them except for the african american family. I'd like to know how some of these movies get made these days. The screenplay is one of the most important, if not the most important, aspect of movies and this movie bombed. Could it be any more miscasted? (is that a word) Also, there wasn't one twist. There wasn't one plot point that caught my interest. This movie could have been an amazing thriller but instead it was Hopkinds and Kidman having sex for two hours because... oh wait I don't know why they like each other. This movie could have been amazing, even with the same actors as it had. Kidman's past would be amazing if elaborated, and the whole sex deal between her and Hopkins would have to go. My favorite part of the movie, if you can call it that, is when the psycho crazy guy kills them both. I find this movie an insult to Hollywood and an embarresment to the actor's careers. I'd like to know what the director was thinking. Books are different than movies. Books can keep your interest in different ways than movies can, and I'm sure the novel it was based on was great, but this movie was a dissapointment, and I'm shocked at the five stars that appear on the site. If you want to see Kidman and Hopkins really give a permormance rent Instinct or The Others, not this excuse for a movie. Sorry if I was harsh, but I can't belevie what i just watched!"