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.
The daughter of a brilliant but mentally disturbed mathematician, recently deceased, tries to come to grips with her possible inheritance: his insanity. Complicating matters are one of her father's ex-students, who wants to search through his papers, and her estranged sister, who shows up to help settle his affairs.
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
I honestly can not think of a single thing wrong with this movie. The actors are top rate actors that consistently turn in exceptional performances. This movie is no exception.
The plot is intriguing. The pasts of the main protagonists unfold, making their characters exceptionally deep. We get to see these characters evolve in interesting and compelling ways. There are shades-of-grey in these characters. We don't have the perfect hero. We have gentle people with kind hearts who make mistakes.
The direction is perfectly understated. There is a lot of nuance in the way the scenes are filmed and the way in which the actors are framed. Instead of the love scenes being the all-to-familiar humping and groaning, these scenes are filmed without graphic nudity. Note the way in which Anthony Hopkins places his hands on Nicole Kidman's back. It is so loving and tender and intimate.
Even the editing is right on. The length of the film, at 106 minutes, is the perfect length. There are no wasted scenes.
Some of the material is hard to watch. Note the posture and the facial expression on Anthony Hopkins in the kitchen scene in which Nicole Kidman is giving him a hard time. It is subtle and painful to watch.
If you are into light-hearted escapist film, this isn't for you. The subject matter is deep and difficult. I like these kinds of movies and this one is one of the best in class.
Kudos to all involved with this film.
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