The Human Stain (2003)

A review - by Shlomoh Sherman
December 28, 2013

The Human Stain (2013)
Director: Robert Benton
Writers: Philip Roth (novel), Nicholas Meyer (screenplay)
Directed by
Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, Ed Harris, Gary Sinise
Runtime: 106 mins
Country: USA - Germany - France
Language: English
Release Date: October 29, 2003 (France)
Filming Locations: Canada
Genres: Drama - Romance - Thriller
Executive producers: Ronald M. Bozman, Marisa Forzano, Michael Ohoven, Rick Schwartz, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein
Line producer: Nan Morales      
Producers: Tom Rosenberg, Scott Steindorff
Co-producer: Mario Ohoven     
Music: Rachel Portman
Cinematography: Jean-Yves Escoffier
Film Editing:   Christopher Tellefsen
Casting: Deborah Aquila
Plot Keywords: professor - classics professor - janitor - college - writer
Taglines: How far would you go to escape the past?
Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)
Rated R for language and sexuality/nudity
Parents Guide: View content advisory
Box Office:
Budget: $30,000,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend: $113,634 (Japan) (June 18, 2004)
Gross: $705,018 (Japan) (July 9, 2004)
Connections: Featured in Nicole Kidman: An American Cinematheque Tribute (2003)
Production Co: Miramax Films, Lakeshore Entertainment, Stone Village
Sound Mix: Dolby Digital
Plot Summary: a college professor becomes romantically involved with a younger woman with a troubled past, and the involvement leads to revelations about his own hidden past.


When I recorded this movie on my DVR, I thought the story was going to be scary mystery movie. It turned out to be one of the best, moving films I have ever seen.

Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman, ably supported by Ed Harris and Gary Sinise, turn in marvelous performances in this gripping and sad story abut an aging professor who has been discredited in his profession by allegations of racism. Now retired, he meets and falls in love with a younger woman with a troubled past. At first, the arrangement is merely sexual for the woman but in time she comes to love the professor with whom she shares the tragic story of her life.

Coleman Silk, the professor, who has been posing as a Jew, is revealed to have a different ethnos which he has been hiding in order to succeed in acedemia. As a younger man, Silk wrote a book about a black family called SPOOKS. Because of this, he was perceived as a bigot and his teaching career was ruined.

Faunia Farley, his young lover, has her own sad past and a mad husband to deal with, the husband being mad in both senses of the word, angry and quite insane.

Coleman and Faunia cling together in love and desperation, each finding comfort in the other, hoping to overcome their pasts and find happiness but their chances of escaping their pasts appear dim.

These events are brought to life when Silk's friend, writer Nathan Zuckerman, undertakes to compose a biography of Silk.

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

Discuss The Human Stain (2003) on the IMDb message boards

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.

When Coleman is looking in the dictionary for the definition of the word "Spooks" he turns to nearly the beginning of the book that couldn't possibly be the letter "S"

Ernestine: "People are just getting dumber, but more opinionated."

Cast overview, first billed only:
Anthony Hopkins ... Coleman Silk
Nicole Kidman ... Faunia Farley
Ed Harris       ... Lester Farley
Gary Sinise       ... Nathan Zuckerman
Wentworth Miller ... Young Coleman Silk
Jacinda Barrett ... Steena Paulsson
Harry Lennix ... Mr. Silk
Clark Gregg       ... Nelson Primus
Anna Deavere Smith ... Mrs. Silk
Lizan Mitchell ... Ernestine
Kerry Washington ... Ellie
Phyllis Newman     ...  Iris Silk
Margo Martindale ... Psychologist
Ron Canada       ... Herb Keble
Mili Avital       ... Young Iris

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