Human Stain

Human Stain

4.2 5
Director: Robert Benton

Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, Ed Harris

     
 

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For his first film since 1998's Twilight, acclaimed director Robert Benton helmed this tense drama written by Fatal Attraction co-scribe Nicholas Meyer and based on the novel of the same name by Philip Roth. Set in the late '90s at the height of the Clinton sex-scandal, The Human Stain stars Anthony Hopkins as Coleman Silk, a respected professorSee more details below

Overview

For his first film since 1998's Twilight, acclaimed director Robert Benton helmed this tense drama written by Fatal Attraction co-scribe Nicholas Meyer and based on the novel of the same name by Philip Roth. Set in the late '90s at the height of the Clinton sex-scandal, The Human Stain stars Anthony Hopkins as Coleman Silk, a respected professor at a New England college who suddenly finds his life unraveling after a comment he makes about some African-American students is misinterpreted as a racial slur. As the scandal heats up, Nathan Zuckerman (Gary Sinise), a writer researching a biography of Silk, begins to dig deeper and deeper into Silk's life. Eventually, matters are made worse when an affair with a young married janitor named Faunia Farley (Nicole Kidman) is exposed. But amid the controversy, Silk must struggle to keep his greatest secret, a secret he's held for the majority of his life, from becoming public. Ed Harris, who previously worked with Benton in 1984's Places in the Heart, also stars.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Theatergoers enjoyed little opportunity to embrace this powerful drama, a serious adaptation of Philip Roth’s provocative novel. But the strong performances of Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman alone merit critical reappraisal of The Human Stain. Hopkins portrays Coleman Silk, a college professor forced from his tenured position, following the furor caused by an innocent remark interpreted by oversensitive black students as a racial slur. The irony is that Silk is himself an African American whose light complexion has enabled to him to pass as white. The dislocated academic soon begins an affair with Faunia Farley (Kidman), a school janitor half his age, and eventually comes to grips with the fact that he has nothing in common with her. Director Robert Benton, no stranger to dramatically complex character studies, demonstrates a solid understanding of the human values involved in this story. Coleman and Faunia have perhaps been drawn to each other by their mutual disillusionments: He realizes that denying his heritage has taken a toll on him, and she finds him a welcome relief -- despite their class and cultural differences -- from her abusive husband (Ed Harris). Their romance isn’t just a sexual fling; it’s a determination by two complex, troubled people to take another risk in hopes of bettering their lives. Nicholas Meyer’s script is subtle but strong, and the seemingly miscast stars sweep away all doubts about their suitability for their respective roles by performing with unusual sensitivity.
All Movie Guide
Few titles convey unspecific malaise as well as The Human Stain, and few films address that malaise with such enviable starkness. Director Robert Benton brings to bear a career's worth of exploring the complexity of human relationships, and the top-to-bottom stellar cast backs him up nicely in a film that flew under the radar, but shouldn't have. Anthony Hopkins may not be far afield from his typical stately intellectual, but Nicole Kidman gives a harrowing demonstration of her range in the role of a dead-end divorcée, and Ed Harris exudes frightening menace as a war veteran whose instabilities might manifest themselves in any way, at any time. Not only does each of the main characters -- who include Gary Sinise as a withdrawn cancer survivor -- get enough screen time to struggle with their very different and very personal injuries, but a healthy stretch of Nicholas Meyer's adroit screenplay delves into the distant past, seamlessly. It's in this portion that the film develops a new, richer layer of meaning that couldn't be divined from either the trailers or the casting of the actors. Yet the film's present tense is also dense with currency and insight, smartly set during the Monika Lewinsky scandal as a means of criticizing our guilt-by-accusation society. That Hopkins' professor could be ruined over his correct usage of a term that's been bastardized into a racial slur echoes several prominent real-world instances of political correctness gone haywire. Although perhaps a little thematically obvious, setting the film in perpetually wintry conditions reminds a viewer of other powerful films involving emotional scarring, such as Affliction or The Ice Storm. The Human Stain is well worthy of joining their ranks.

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Product Details

Release Date:
04/12/2011
UPC:
0096009760199
Original Release:
2003
Rating:
R
Source:
Miramax Echo Bridge
Time:
1:46:00

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Anthony Hopkins Coleman Silk
Nicole Kidman Faunia Farley
Ed Harris Lester Farley
Gary Sinise Nathan Zuckerman
Wentworth Miller Coleman Silk as a young man
Jacinda Barrett Steena Paulsson
Harry J. Lennix Mr. Silk
Clark Gregg Nelson Primus
Anna Deavere Smith Mrs. Silk
Lizan Mitchell Ernestine
Kerry Washington Ellie
Phyllis Newman Iris Silk
Margo Martindale Psychologist
Ron Canada Herb Keble
Mili Avital Young Iris

Technical Credits
Robert Benton Director
Jim McConkey Camera Operator
Mario Ohoven Co-producer
Bob Weinstein Executive Producer

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Human Stain
1. Summer of Sanctimony [5:23]
2. Spooks [5:11]
3. Peripeteia [6:36]
4. Dancing Cheek to Cheek [8:38]
5. Faunia [6:16]
6. Life Story [5:42]
7. Full of Surprises [4:23]
8. All That's Left [6:00]
9. Not in Your World [6:20]
10. Dining Car [6:35]
11. More Than Sex [7:06]
12. Meeting the Folks [6:27]
13. Tell It to the Birds [7:25]
14. The Truth Hurls [12:05]
15. Drilling Ice Holes [11:22]

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