The Human Stain
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Top Customer Reviews
The film is told in flashback sequences with the narrator of the tale, writer and friend of main character, Coleman Silk's. His name is Nathan Zuckerman (a fabulous Gary Sinese). Incidentally, the character of Nathan Zuckerman is the author, Phillip Roth's alter-ego and is throughout the trilogy of novels.
Coleman Silk, played adeptly by Sir Anthony Hopkins, is a 71 year-old college professor at small New England Athena College. Coleman is wrongfully accused of racial slurs against a couple of absent pupils and loses his tenured position. This shocking news sends his beloved wife into sickness and before long, she succumbs...
If only his family, friends and all the people that Coleman Silk has touched throughout their lives knew the REAL story, such charges would have never been brought about in the first place.
Silk gets lonely and depressed quite quickly, finds the wonderful drug just produced by the name of Viagra and meets the illiterate but beautiful school janitor, Faunia Farley, played by Nicole Kidman. Faunia might be illiterate but she has graduated with honors from "The School Of Hard Knocks", both figuratively and literally by her Vietnam vet abusive husband Lester, played excellently by Ed Harris. Coleman and Faunia have a torrid affair with the whole New England town buzzing about the goings on. As they get closer and share with one another, Faunia's past is almost as shocking as Coleman's.Read more ›
If you've read the marvellous but somewhat un-adaptable book by the same name (Phillip Roth's "The Human Stain") you'll know what I am talking about and in that case, watch the movie without any expectations of seeing a loyal adaptation because this isn't.
If you are not familiar with Roth's book, the movie's spinal theme may be racial prejudice, but it is really the story of a man deciding, late in life, to love the unknown what is beyond books, pride, even self. To learn that lesson is to turn a stain into a blessing.
Stylistically, I felt the theme could have been dealt with in a somewhat smarter way. Without giving too much away, the "scandal" at the heart of the movie really gets very little screen time which helps diminish its importance in comparison with Coleman's past. But we see so little of it that it belittles its own thematic importance, and the movie spends a great deal of energy setting up storylines and elements that get little eventual payoff.
This is why I say the novel was a bit difficult to adapt. Following Coleman's life all the way along, not just its beginning and end, could have made the movie work better as a movie; so could exposing his secret to the world of the film instead of just to the audience. At one point, Coleman's sister says doing just that would have instantly cleared up all the scandal and misunderstanding. Wrong. It would have made everything much more complicated, much more textured, much less black-and-white. As it is, we are left with a movie about two people whose lives have already ended clinging to each other for comfort.Read more ›
We have a man who looks white but is black, pretends to be a Jew, and lives a life of deception. We have a woman with a background that gives her every advantage but she is destroyed because she was molested as a child due to her ravishing beauty. At the very moment when these two finally find peace in each other's arms they are wiped out by the insanity of evil.
Coleman's story unfolds in a series of perplexing flashbacks that leaves the viewer confounded until we finally discover that Coleman Silk and the black boxer are one and the same. Faunia's story is equally confusing. It is unreasonable that this utterly gorgeous young woman is so casually willing to give herself sexually to a rejected Viagra dependant old man. Why is she merely scraping out a living for herself sweeping floors and feeding cattle when you sense that she has so much more to offer? What horror has brought her to this state of despair? As her story unfolds in her final soliloquy with a caged crow we find that she is so haunted by the blame she feels for the accidental death of her children, while she was distracted with a lover, that she is suicidal, emotionally detached, and devastated.
Into this mix vengeance pursues Faunia in the form of her ex-husband, a tortured Viet Nam vet for whom killing has become a casual exercise. Lester Farley is a clever mixture of blind fate and conscious hate that only the writer, Zuckerman, ultimately understands and reveals to the world.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The year this came out, there were some blockbusters, such as MAster and Commander etc. This move won "best picture" at the AFI awards. Read morePublished 16 days ago by David M. Schultz
A college professor was described by the narrator as the person who dragged the college he worked at into as close to "Ivy League" as you can get without actually being... Read morePublished 6 months ago by S. T. Peterson
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