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The Human Stain (2003)

R  |   |  Drama, Romance, Thriller  |  31 October 2003 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 24,715 users   Metascore: 57/100
Reviews: 215 user | 123 critic | 39 from Metacritic.com

When a disgraced former college dean has a romance with a mysterious younger woman haunted by her dark, twisted past, he is forced to confront a shocking fact about his own life that he has kept secret for 50 years.



(novel), (screenplay)
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3 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lizan Mitchell ...
Phyllis Newman ...
Iris Silk
Young Iris


The Human Stain is the story of Coleman Silk (Hopkins), a classics professor with a terrible secret that is about to shatter his life in a small New England town. When his affair with a young troubled janitor (Kidman) is uncovered, the secret Silk had harbored for over fifty years from his wife, his children and colleague, writer Nathan Zuckerman, fast explodes in a conflagration of devastating consequences. It is Zuckerman who stumbles upon Silk's secret and sets out to reconstruct the unknown biography of this eminent, upright man, esteemed as an educator for nearly all his life, and to understand how this ingeniously contrived life came unraveled. Written by lakeshoreentertainment.com

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


How far would you go to escape the past?

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and sexuality/nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



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Release Date:

31 October 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cloveski madez  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$839,170 (France) (31 October 2003)


$705,018 (Japan) (9 July 2004)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The racist white man on the train who berates the porter is played by Allison Davis, a Chicago attorney who is black. See more »


When Coleman and Faunia are talking in the kitchen, the cigarettes and the lighter on the counter (next to Kidman) keep changing position from scene to scene. See more »


Mrs. Silk: Funny I never thought of you as black or white. Gold. You were my golden child.
See more »


References The Oprah Winfrey Show (1986) See more »


Day Dream
Written by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn
Performed by Johnny Hodges & Orchestra
Courtesy of The RCA Records Label, a unit of BMG Music
Under license from BMG Strategic Marketing Group
See more »

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User Reviews

A satisfying film -- I wish there were more like it.
31 December 2003 | by (Topeka, KS) – See all my reviews

This just opened in Lawrence, KS, a university town, at the theater that shows indies and foreign films. Maybe Miramax is hoping for a "Big Fat Greek Wedding" type of reaction?

I've not read the book but, to me, this was a very satisfying film, with some examination of a number of issues: the costs to a black person of crossing over and becoming white -- and/or the price to anyone of becoming disconnected from their families. Although disconnection may give greater freedom in some ways, in others it forms an uncomfortable prison. Another issue might be described as a variant on, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." And yet another is that the "stain" that all of us carry also stains others with whom we come in contact. And maybe there's a dear price (and reward?) that may be paid for following heart too much rather than head?

Really solid performances by some great actors -- Hopkins, Kidman, Harris -- and the others.

Some gratuitous nudity was injected, maybe to help ticket sales?, but it was not too far-fetched from the story line.

All the backgrounds fit (I grew up in Vermont and lived in academia many years elsewhere); the landscape and the Volvos plus the professor's house had a very authentic feel.

67 of 85 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
How can the professor be white while his 2 parents are black? Kyrios_Chalakatevakis
A film about race and class, dominated by rich white actors SaDaTay
Critics should be eating Crow SidneySassy
Zuckerman's past dbogosian-1
Why did the girlfriend cried on the train? ionaradelima
Bizarre euronick61
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