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 fifty years.
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'm terrifically surprised at all the middling reviewing of this film, to the point where I feel I have to echo the last few reviews that stand in opposition.
This is a film that just does it right. Unlike so many other dramas with heavyweight casts, this really feels like it's about the story, not the work. Kidman, aside from slipping into her native accent on a handful of words, is fantastic -- perhaps her very best. Harris, like Streep and maybe two or three other actors, brings a real humanity to a role that any other actor would just fill out.
But most of all, everything is in the background and hence subservient to the story. The gorgeous lighting, scenery, dialog -- the whole craft of the film is done the way it's supposed to be done, in the damn background. That all said, I think the real reason this film is slighted is because it's a little too good for the average viewer. It doesn't live up to their idea of what a lit-cum-drama is supposed to feel like. I just have a feeling that in several years this will be revisited and appreciated much more. Now, I'm going to go watch it again!
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