The Human Stain

October 29th, 2003


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Still of Ed Harris in The Human StainStill of Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman in The Human StainGary Sinise at event of The Human StainAnthony Hopkins and Robert Benton in The Human StainStill of Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman in The Human StainStill of Anthony Hopkins in The Human Stain

When a disgraced former college professor has a romance with a mysterious younger woman haunted by her dark twisted past, he is forced to confront a shocking secret about his own life that he has kept secret for 50 years.

Release Year: 2003

Rating: 6.3/10 (16,506 voted)

Critic's Score: 57/100

Director: Robert Benton

Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, Ed Harris

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.

Writers: Philip Roth, Nicholas Meyer

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

Taglines: How far would you go to escape the past?


Official Website: Miramax |

Release Date: 29 October 2003

Filming Locations: Canada

Box Office Details

Budget: $30,000,000(estimated)

Opening Weekend: $1,034,195 (USA) (2 November 2003) (160 Screens)

Gross: $24,863,804 (Worldwide)

Technical Specs


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.

Continuity: When Coleman and Faunia are talking in the kitchen, the cigarettes and the lighter on the counter (next to Kidman) keep changing position from scene to scene.

Young Coleman Silk: Dance For Me.

User Review

A Near Perfect Film

Rating: 10/10

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.