The Human Stain - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Human Stain Reviews

Top Critic
November 3, 2003
One of those films that makes you say, 'That was powerful. Now what the hell was it about?'
Top Critic
Richard Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
November 3, 2003
... solid but not great.
Top Critic
Bill Muller
Arizona Republic
November 1, 2003
It is hard to buy what The Human Stain is peddling.
Read More | Original Score: 2/5
Top Critic
Charles Taylor
Salon.com
November 1, 2003
The Human Stain takes a complex work of literary art and reduces it to tasteful melodrama.
Top Critic
Desson Thomson
Washington Post
October 31, 2003
Works wonderfully as an actor's movie. The trouble is, that's the only way it works.
Top Critic
Stephen Hunter
Washington Post
October 31, 2003
The problem is that neither Kidman nor Hopkins seems to know what movie they are in.
Top Critic
Geoff Pevere
Toronto Star
October 31, 2003
The stain of seriousness spreads over everything in this movie, eventually blocking out everything but the effort.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
Top Critic
Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
October 31, 2003
There are moments ... that find both truth and lyricism, touching on what it means to be alive, and on what we owe to the ghosts of the past.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
October 31, 2003
Falls victim to a fatal lack of narrative drive, suspense and drama.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Jay Boyar
Orlando Sentinel
October 31, 2003
When Kidman's on screen, the film catches fire. Otherwise, it remains unignited.
Read More | Original Score: 3/5
Top Critic
Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
October 31, 2003
But audiences truly fascinated with the issues it touches upon -- class and sex, race and identity -- would be better off to search out the source material that delves into them deeply.
Top Critic
Jonathan Foreman
New York Post
October 31, 2003
A compelling, sexy and often moving film.
Read More | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Jami Bernard
New York Daily News
October 31, 2003
Nicole Kidman as a milkmaid leading a hardscrabble existence? If you say so.
Read More | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Eric Harrison
Houston Chronicle
October 31, 2003
It's a respectable effort that doesn't quite gel, but not for lack of trying.
Read More | Original Score: B-
Top Critic
Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
October 31, 2003
It neatly illustrates the perils of kidnapping a decent novel from its rightful home and exposing the vulnerable thing to the glare of a Hollywood camera.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Tom Long
Detroit News
October 31, 2003
A platinum-class production that tackles the major hot-button issue of American racism and yet somehow never manages to connect emotionally either through its main characters or story.
Read More | Original Score: C-
Top Critic
Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
October 31, 2003
Supporting performances aside, The Human Stain leaves little impression.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Robert Denerstein
Denver Rocky Mountain News
October 31, 2003
It's a well-intended failure. Benton may have been trying for an American tragedy, but it's possible he wound up with a sympathy card instead.
Read More | Original Score: C+
Top Critic
Michael Booth
Denver Post
October 31, 2003
Rushes from the personal to the universal in an exhilarating victory for storytelling.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
October 31, 2003
Here are complex, troubled, flawed people, brave enough to breathe deeply and take one more risk with their lives.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Ty Burr
Boston Globe
October 31, 2003
Benton, miraculously, has achieved the worst of both worlds. He has laid bare a great author's creaky plotting only to deliver a melodrama with bookish pretensions.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
A.O. Scott
New York Times
October 30, 2003
The filmmakers explicate Mr. Roth's themes with admirable clarity and care and observe his characters with delicate fondness, but they cannot hope to approximate the brilliance and rapacity of his voice.
Read More | Original Score: 3/5
Top Critic
Claudia Puig
USA Today
October 30, 2003
How does one even begin to list the imperfections of The Human Stain?
Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/4
Top Critic
Andrew Sarris
New York Observer
October 30, 2003
The movie is fully worthy of the book, and will reach many people who might not have enjoyed the delightful experience of gliding through Mr. Roth's trenchant and zestful prose on the human condition.
Top Critic
Manohla Dargis
Los Angeles Times
October 30, 2003
Benton and Mayer have gutted the novel's uncivil, discomforting viscera -- including Roth's pokes at political correctness -- and delivered an uninteresting, at times comically inappropriate 'tasteful' story.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
Top Critic
Chris Vognar
Dallas Morning News
October 30, 2003
Even when miscast, [Hopkins and Kidman] are capable of spellbinding performances.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
Top Critic
Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
October 30, 2003
The Human Stain strains too hard for profundity and comes up borderline pompous.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Glenn Lovell
San Jose Mercury News
October 30, 2003
Never jells as compelling or satisfying drama.
Read More | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
October 30, 2003
It's a dry, intellectual exercise better suited to tea and crumpets than soda and popcorn.
Read More | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer
October 30, 2003
The first hour of their movie is quite fine, at times poignant, but ultimately the filmmakers give us a love triangle that all but erases one of its legs.
Read More | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
John Anderson
Newsday
October 30, 2003
What's shattering is the utterly graceless way the book has been adulterated, condensed, simplified and made rather pointless.
Read More | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Scott Foundas
L.A. Weekly
October 30, 2003
Develops a restless, shifty rhythm wherein, too often, only the story's most incendiary, polemical aspects -- the ones where you feel like Roth is chastising you from some post-liberal, Jewish-intellectual Parnassus -- come bubbling up to the surface.
Top Critic
Michael Wilmington
Chicago Tribune
October 30, 2003
The Human Stain has those qualities we often want but rarely see in our films: intelligence and ambition, decency and humanity, poetry and pity, fire and ice.
Read More | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Eleanor Ringel Gillespie
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
October 30, 2003
Roth may be a brilliant writer -- he's got the prizes to prove it -- but he doesn't create brilliant characters (especially female ones), and his plots work better on the page than on the screen.
Read More | Original Score: C-
Top Critic
Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
October 29, 2003
Between the labors of simplifying the story for the screen and accommodating the stardust of world-class actors, an essentially, uniquely American tragic hero and heroine are bleached of real American tragedy.
Full Review | Original Score: C+
Top Critic
James Berardinelli
ReelViews
October 28, 2003
Undemanding viewers will probably find enough intriguing material here to make it worth a look, but I was too disappointed by the wasted potential to be enthusiastic.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
J. Hoberman
Village Voice
October 28, 2003
The nerviest prestige picture of the season is fatally undone by a Clintonian mixture of misplaced care and bizarre expediency.
Top Critic
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
September 25, 2003
The Human Stain is heavy going. It's the flashes of dramatic lightning that make it a trip worth taking.
Read More | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
David Stratton
Variety
September 4, 2003
An intelligent adaptation of Philip Roth's arguably unfilmable novel.
Top Critic
Jean Oppenheimer
Hollywood Reporter
September 4, 2003
The thriller aspects of the story and the overall solid level of acting -- including a sexy performance from a red-hot Nicole Kidman -- keep the audience interested but never fully emotionally involved.