6.3/10
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219 user 122 critic

The Human Stain (2003)

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.

Director:

Writers:

(novel), (screenplay)

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3 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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

Taglines:

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:

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Details

Official Sites:

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Release Date:

31 October 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cloveski madez  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

$5,381,227 (USA) (30 January 2004)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of four collaborations between Margo Martindale and director Robert Benton. See more »

Goofs

The camera used to tape the interview is a Sony PD-150, a camera that didn't exist in 1998. See more »

Quotes

Mrs. Silk: You need to be proud of your race.
Young Coleman Silk: What about me? What about just being proud of being me? It's my life.
See more »

Connections

References The Manchurian Candidate (1962) See more »

Soundtracks

I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good
(1941)
Music by Duke Ellington
Lyrics by Paul Francis Webster (as Paul Webster)
Performed by The Oscar Peterson Trio
Courtesy of The Verve Music Group
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
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User Reviews

 
Mind-opening psychological thriller
22 February 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This movie is based around the life of a classics professor (Coleman), who is currently living in a small New England town. He has harboured a dark secret for 50 years which slowly starts coming out and causes his life to unravel painfully. When he loses his job after being wrongfully charged of racism, his wife dies leaving this man who is near retirement, with nothing. He embarks on an affair with a young cleaning lady from the college which quickly turns into a relationship as they reveal intimate secrets to each other and finally find the release and trust they've each been searching for. I quite enjoyed this movie – there was some excellent acting from some top actors, and the sense of intrigue and suspense was maintained throughout. The characters were well-written and the complexities which lingered within their personalities original yet believable. There were moments where I held my breath waiting for the tension to subside and others where I found myself wishing that everything could work out nicely for the people in this story, and remove the arguments and misunderstandings which threatened to ruin what good things they had. It is a truly great movie which can inspire this level of emotion in its audience. The main downside was the fact that it did not seem to flow very well between flashback sequences and the present. Of course I could clearly make out which scenes were of a younger Coleman and memories of the past, however at times failed to recognise their significance at that particular point. It may have been a better idea to insert several shorter flashback clips instead of the lengthy scenes used so that the connection with the present was not lost. There were also sections where the story lagged slightly and I questioned the need for these scenes. In some parts the use of visual without dialogue was extremely effective, but in other parts I felt that the scenes existed solely for the sake of art. In particular, scenes such as the lingering shot of Coleman cradling his wife as she died, froze time and really made me feel the incredible and very sudden loss he suffered. But in comparison, a sequence where the professor's young lady is dancing erotically for him seemed clumsily done as I felt it existed purely for the sake of displaying a sex scene. It did not have the effect of deepening our understanding of the emotions the two main characters felt, which I think it should have done. I was amazed at the end when the terrible secret was revealed through the investigations of a writer who the professor had befriended. To me it would seem wrong to live such a deception your entire life but the movie helped me to understand the character's motives and how he felt that he had no other choice. I was left feeling saddened that someone would have to deny their heritage to such an extent in order to achieve their goals. While it takes a bit of patience to get through the movie (which could have been 20mins shorter), I would highly recommend this movie to anyone. With any luck the more people who watch this movie, the more open-minded society will become and hopefully this type of prejudice will disappear.


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