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The Human Stain

The Human Stain (2003)

tomatometer

43

Average Rating: 5.5/10
Reviews Counted: 150
Fresh: 64 | Rotten: 86

Though the acting is fine, the leads are miscast, and the story is less powerful on screen than on the page.

38

Average Rating: 5.5/10
Critic Reviews: 40
Fresh: 15 | Rotten: 25

Though the acting is fine, the leads are miscast, and the story is less powerful on screen than on the page.

audience

49

liked it
Average Rating: 3.1/5
User Ratings: 15,467

My Rating

Movie Info

Coleman Silk is a man who, throughout his life, has been a master of deception and self-reinvention. As a promising college student, Coleman's first love, Steena, is shattered by a secret. Years later, as an esteemed professor, his career is ruined by false accusations. Now as he embarks on a scandalous affair with the mysterious Faunia, Coleman experiences an erotic reawakening that carries him back to the past. But with his resurrected passion also comes the threat of danger from Faunia's

R,

Mystery & Suspense, Drama

Nick Meyers

Jul 20, 2004

$5.3M

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All Critics (166) | Top Critics (44) | Fresh (64) | Rotten (86) | DVD (21)

One of those films that makes you say, 'That was powerful. Now what the hell was it about?'

November 3, 2003 Full Review Source: Slate
Slate
Top Critic IconTop Critic

... solid but not great.

November 3, 2003 Full Review Source: Ebert & Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It is hard to buy what The Human Stain is peddling.

November 1, 2003
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Human Stain takes a complex work of literary art and reduces it to tasteful melodrama.

November 1, 2003 Full Review Source: Salon.com
Salon.com
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Works wonderfully as an actor's movie. The trouble is, that's the only way it works.

October 31, 2003
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The problem is that neither Kidman nor Hopkins seems to know what movie they are in.

October 31, 2003
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

So finely tooled that it feels like it ought to be bound in Morocco leather and placed on a display case in a department store for a last minute Christmas gift.

September 18, 2013 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Flawed adaptation of Roth's novel isn't for kids.

December 28, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Casting a stain.

September 18, 2007 Full Review Source: Bangor Daily News (Maine) | Comment (1)
Bangor Daily News (Maine)

Both Nicole Kidman and Anthony Hopkins are vastly miscast in Robert Benton's poor adaptation of Philip Roth's poignant novel, one of the few works about contempo academic battlefields.

August 2, 2007 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

The acting is phenomenal (especially Harris), and the film will be a nice challenge for those in search of one.

June 20, 2005 Full Review Source: FromTheBalcony

One of the most underrated pictures of 2003.

December 17, 2004

The film's frame groans in its attempt to contain such a complex story, and its actors ask us to accept implausible things... but it's ultimately rewarding.

December 6, 2004 Full Review Source: Looking Closer
Looking Closer

A tricky adaptation of an unlikely novel that nevertheless goes almost as wrong as possible...prey to the most amateur varieties of structural and tonal errors.

August 28, 2004 Full Review Source: Nick's Flick Picks
Nick's Flick Picks

...a potboiler disguised as a work of art.

July 11, 2004 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

In an obvious stretch, Kidman's acting calls attention to itself, especially with her broad gestures.

April 9, 2004 Full Review Source: Film-Forward.com
Film-Forward.com

It is a well-dressed, good-looking wax dummy of a film.

March 2, 2004 Full Review Source: Sight and Sound
Sight and Sound

a well-acted misfire...

February 28, 2004 Full Review

Watching Kidman mop floors impressed me with same effect as seeing George W. Bush fly a fighter jet.

February 24, 2004 Full Review Source: Boulder Weekly

Além das péssimas escalações de Hopkins e Kidman, que simplesmente não convencem em seus papéis, o filme ainda sofre em função do roteiro sem foco de Meyer.

February 11, 2004
Cinema em Cena

It's a thought-provoking, unusually intelligent and well-acted film.

February 2, 2004 Full Review Source: Boston Herald
Boston Herald

A valiant attempt to bring a difficult book (Philip Roth's The Human Stain) to the screen that's undermined by the added distraction of Nicole Kidman as a char lady.

February 2, 2004 Full Review Source: Movie Boeuf
Movie Boeuf

Sensitively written and directed but spectacularly miscast.

January 21, 2004 Full Review Source: Bryant Frazer's Deep Focus
Bryant Frazer's Deep Focus

There are some terrific scenes.

January 15, 2004 Full Review Source: eye WEEKLY
eye WEEKLY

A well-acted and well-intentioned film, but the plot is laughably inept.

January 13, 2004 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

The Human Stain is an interesting film that doesn't quite work. [It] is probably the best film version possible of what is essentially an unfilmable work.

January 1, 2004 Full Review

Audience Reviews for The Human Stain

This movie is based around the life of a classics professor (Coleman), who is currently living in a small New England town. He has harboured a dark secret for 50 years which slowly starts coming out and causes his life to unravel painfully. When he loses his job after being wrongfully charged of racism, his wife dies leaving this man who is near retirement, with nothing. He embarks on an affair with a young cleaning lady from the college which quickly turns into a relationship as they reveal intimate secrets to each other and finally find the release and trust they've each been searching for. I quite enjoyed this movie ? there was some excellent acting from some top actors, and the sense of intrigue and suspense was maintained throughout. The characters were well-written and the complexities which lingered within their personalities original yet believable. There were moments where I held my breath waiting for the tension to subside and others where I found myself wishing that everything could work out nicely for the people in this story, and remove the arguments and misunderstandings which threatened to ruin what good things they had. It is a truly great movie which can inspire this level of emotion in its audience. The main downside was the fact that it did not seem to flow very well between flashback sequences and the present. Of course I could clearly make out which scenes were of a younger Coleman and memories of the past, however at times failed to recognise their significance at that particular point. It may have been a better idea to insert several shorter flashback clips instead of the lengthy scenes used so that the connection with the present was not lost. There were also sections where the story lagged slightly and I questioned the need for these scenes. In some parts the use of visual without dialogue was extremely effective, but in other parts I felt that the scenes existed solely for the sake of art. In particular, scenes such as the lingering shot of Coleman cradling his wife as she died, froze time and really made me feel the incredible and very sudden loss he suffered. But in comparison, a sequence where the professor's young lady is dancing erotically for him seemed clumsily done as I felt it existed purely for the sake of displaying a sex scene. It did not have the effect of deepening our understanding of the emotions the two main characters felt, which I think it should have done. I was amazed at the end when the terrible secret was revealed through the investigations of a writer who the professor had befriended. To me it would seem wrong to live such a deception your entire life but the movie helped me to understand the character's motives and how he felt that he had no other choice. I was left feeling saddened that someone would have to deny their heritage to such an extent in order to achieve their goals. While it takes a bit of patience to get through the movie (which could have been 20mins shorter), I would highly recommend this movie to anyone. With any luck the more people who watch this movie, the more open-minded society will become and hopefully this type of prejudice will disappear.
February 3, 2009
matertenebraum

Super Reviewer

I'm becoming a huge fan of Nicole Kidman. She's obviously a stunning woman, but fortunately she's also an excellent actress. She disappears into her roles and The Human Stain is the best display of her talents that I've seen so far. Kidman and the rest of the cast give perfect performances that augment a very interesting plot.

The Human Stain is essentially the story of two people's pasts and the events that still deeply affect their emotions and psyches. It takes a while before the entirety of the story is revealed, but if you're anything like me then you'll find yourself completely fascinated with each of the main characters by the end.

There are one or two scenes that come of as less than aunthentic, but these littlle missteps help to keep the story humming along, so I can't complain too much. I highly recommend The Human Stain, it's very well put together and even managed a few unexpected twists and turns.
November 17, 2008
lewiskendell

Super Reviewer

I just watched this again. A story of secrets and how it becomes the human stain. I always wanted to buy the book but then one day I came across the vcd on a store and decided to buy it instead. (yeah yeah Im a cheapskate! vcd! it was on sale :p)

Intriguing tidbit from
dauntfreesparro18:

"Wentworth Miller (to prepare for the role of Anthony Hopkins' younger self) watched every movie w/Anthony in it. And Anthony Hopkins watched Wentworth's home movies and even had makeup put a mole on the left side of his face, just like Wentworth has."
November 23, 2007
Gx7
Ginny  X

Super Reviewer

    1. Ernestine: People are just getting dumber.
    – Submitted by Frances H (13 months ago)
    1. Coleman Silk: I don't think you can measure sorrow.
    – Submitted by Frances H (13 months ago)
    1. Coleman Silk: I am not afraid of dying. I'm not the one who ran off to a cabin in the woods to hide out.
    – Submitted by Frances H (13 months ago)
View all quotes (3)

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