The Human Stain Reviews

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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.
October 31, 2003
Rushes from the personal to the universal in an exhilarating victory for storytelling.
October 31, 2003
Here are complex, troubled, flawed people, brave enough to breathe deeply and take one more risk with their lives.
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.
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.
October 30, 2003
How does one even begin to list the imperfections of The Human Stain?
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.
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.
October 30, 2003
Even when miscast, [Hopkins and Kidman] are capable of spellbinding performances.
October 30, 2003
Never jells as compelling or satisfying drama.
October 30, 2003
It's a dry, intellectual exercise better suited to tea and crumpets than soda and popcorn.
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.
October 30, 2003
What's shattering is the utterly graceless way the book has been adulterated, condensed, simplified and made rather pointless.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
October 28, 2003
The nerviest prestige picture of the season is fatally undone by a Clintonian mixture of misplaced care and bizarre expediency.
September 25, 2003
The Human Stain is heavy going. It's the flashes of dramatic lightning that make it a trip worth taking.
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