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Overall Rating

Awesome: 11.43%
Worth A Look: 21.43%
Average: 7.14%
Pretty Bad42.86%
Total Crap: 17.14%

6 reviews, 34 user ratings

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Human Stain, The
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Greg Muskewitz

"The color gray."
2 stars

Oscar bait with no bite.

After Anthony Hopkins, a classics professor, makes reference to two students missing since the semester’s inception as “spooks,” one of the truant students eventually surfaces to file complaints of racism — both absentees are black. Snubbed by his colleagues and fired, shortly after his wife dies, along the way he begins an affair with Nicole Kidman, a mysterious factotum. The fragmented storyline skips back-and-forth to the lackluster and unswallowable romance, and Hopkins’ secret past. Assumed a Jew, the character is instead a light-skinned African-American (a fact that, if it were revealed, would have obviously prevented his being fired) who finds it easier to get along in the “white man’s world” rather than struggle along by being recognized as black. (Only near the end does a speech by Anna Deavere Smith register any form of a dent on those issues, and is the only sign of its kind.) The revelation in the story contains its highest possibility for an interesting examination of a society that can be so two-faced to a person in the times it was set (as well as the modern implications). But neither Robert Benton nor Nicholas Meyer (from Philip Roth’s novel) feel compelled to give that much exploration. The wattage of Hopkins and Kidman (with a more sallow glow from Gary Sinise, as Hopkins’ friend, and Ed Harris as Kidman’s estranged husband, a deranged Vietnam vet) blinds Benton to the meagerness of the story, all too carefully composed as a critique of Clinton’s P.C. reign. Kidman, an actress most seem to be too quick to dole out respect to, is perhaps the weakest link of the entire film, giving what is perhaps her worst performance ever. Completely miscast (how could such an oversight be made?), the China doll-faced actress sees to it at all times to speak in a breathy whisper, as though being muffled out, and with a bad accent in-tow. Even Hopkins, whose casting seemed an interesting choice, clearly underutilized, looks lost throughout it all. Only Wentworth Miller, playing the young Hopkins character, does something amazing with the role, with his subtle performance playing to a segment that removes itself from the rest of the movie. With Jacinda Barrett.

[See it if you must.]

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 05/12/04 20:03:28
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Starz Denver Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Starz Denver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Chicago Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/04/15 Anne Mixed as far as talent goes, disjointed 3 stars
9/03/08 Shaun Wallner Boring not worth it! 1 stars
10/22/06 William Goss Self-indulgent awards bait that clumsily attempts literary scope. Unfulfilling. 2 stars
6/22/06 TB Too many flashback in the film=Dull 2 stars
6/19/06 chienne another film stuffed up by Kidman, when will they stop her making them? 1 stars
11/15/05 BoyInTheDesignerBubble Spook is a racist name. I'll forgive you for not knowing that. 4 stars
8/26/05 Indrid Cold Anthony Hopkins as an African American (!) is not as interesting as it sounds. 3 stars
5/17/05 m orwig spectacular performances 5 stars
3/07/05 ad sucks 1 stars
10/23/04 ODH Great ideas, but poor direction/storytelling and bad casting limit the film 3 stars
9/29/04 Harry D Anthony Hopkins make this one more than worthwhile. He is authentic. 4 stars
9/16/04 Terry McGuffage Why was she talking to a crow? This may actually be the worst movie I have ever seen. 1 stars
9/16/04 Doc Shock Boring. Unlikeable characters. 2 stars
8/09/04 ownerofdajoint best movie kidman has ever done see it for her..hopkins is regular excellent self also,,, 4 stars
8/04/04 Beth too long, too much of Kidman, and boring 2 stars
7/25/04 Kyle the cat great acting,good beginning,poor ending 4 stars
7/19/04 hollywood Hopkins miscast. No mystery, suspense at all. 2 stars
5/17/04 kasper absolute crap... boring, miscast and confusing 1 stars
3/26/04 rojo Genuine emotion in this movie, really liked it. 5 stars
1/26/04 Vladislava Vojnovic Screenwriters work! 4 stars
1/21/04 Betty White Hopkins is miscast, but still good in this masterful film. 5 stars
12/09/03 Lyn Superb movie, especially for those who believe in the universal law of cause and effect. 5 stars
12/08/03 Marcin very well done and perfect acting both of them(KIdman and Hopkins) making good feeling 5 stars
12/05/03 MacGregor A film for thoughtful people. Should win Oscar. Geezer R scenes are gross!! 5 stars
12/02/03 illconceivedplot I agree this film has some ragged edges, bizarre transitions, and implausible twists. 3 stars
11/28/03 atirupa great 5 stars
11/26/03 viewer Well acted well told story 4 stars
11/22/03 john interesting, good acting, Nocole Kidman yes in deedie 4 stars
11/13/03 gloria flashbacks are probably more worth seeing than performances by nicole and anthony 4 stars
11/07/03 Cameron Slick Not completely cohesive but with great acting and intrigue. 4 stars
11/06/03 Kooler What a snooze! Plus: gross old man sex. Yurg. 2 stars
11/04/03 nik anthony hopkins? wouldn't bill cosby have worked as well here? 1 stars
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  31-Oct-2003 (R)
  DVD: 12-Apr-2011



Directed by
  Robert Benton

Written by
  Nicholas Meyer

  Anthony Hopkins
  Nicole Kidman
  Ed Harris
  Gary Sinise
  Jacinda Barrett
  Ron Canada

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