The Human Stain

2003, Drama, 1h 46m

155 Reviews 10,000+ Ratings

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critics consensus

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

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Movie Info

Coleman Silk (Anthony Hopkins) is a worldly and admired professor who loses his job after unwittingly making a racial slur. To clear his name, Silk writes a book about the events with his friend and colleague Nathan Zuckerman (Gary Sinise), who in the process discovers a dark secret Silk has hidden his whole life. All the while, Silk engages in an affair with Faunia Farley (Nicole Kidman), a younger woman whose tormented past threatens to unravel the layers of deception Silk has constructed.

Cast & Crew

Critic Reviews for The Human Stain

Audience Reviews for The Human Stain

  • Jul 07, 2021
    It has problems to be sure (certain casting choices, the lack of any serious deep dive into the academic culture it is supposedly criticizing etc.) however, I'm pleasantly surprised that the movie isn't really the perverse fantasy I feared it would be as the characters often make choices that complicate them in ways that ensure they don't exists as mouthpieces for particular ideologies. Also, I am grateful that the central "twist" here is revealed rather casually rather than dropped as a bombshell.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 14, 2009
    Great performances (loved Wentworth Miller lol)
    Anna G Super Reviewer
  • Apr 25, 2009
    I was more surprised that Wentworth Miller, an up-and-coming (and passe blanc in real life), would take on a role like this
    Remi L Super Reviewer
  • Feb 03, 2009
    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.
    Cassandra M Super Reviewer

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