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The Human Stain

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Germany, France, United States · 2003
Rated R · 1h 46m
Director Robert Benton
Starring Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, Ed Harris, Gary Sinise
Genre Drama

Coleman Silk is an admired professor who loses his job after unwittingly making a racial slur. To clear his name, Silk writes a book about the event. All the while, Silk engages in an affair with a younger woman whose tormented past threatens to unravel the layers of deception Silk has constructed.

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What are critics saying?


The Hollywood Reporter by

The thriller aspects of the story and the overall solid level of acting -- including a sexy performance from a red-hot Nicole Kidman -- keep the audience interested but never fully emotionally involved.


The New Yorker by Anthony Lane

All we are left with, in essence, is an unlikely love affair, performed by two actors so remorselessly skilled that, by the end, you can't see the love for the skill. [3 November 2003, p. 104]


Newsweek by David Ansen

For all its shortcomings, The Human Stain is an honorable, sometimes moving attempt, better at evoking the poignancy of Silk's autumnal affair than exploring the moral ambiguities of his deception.


Village Voice by J. Hoberman

Playing the young Coleman with the requisite intelligence and ambiguity, Wentworth Miller contributes the sole viable characterization.


The A.V. Club by Nathan Rabin

Roth's novel was at heart a howl of rage against a corrupt, hypocritical, judgmental world, but Benton's austere adaptation--stunningly shot by the late Jean-Yves Escoffier--speaks largely in muted tones.


New York Magazine (Vulture) by Peter Rainer

Roth's deep-dish introspection would be difficult for any movie to achieve, but with the right cast and more passion, we might have been pulled right into Coleman's psychic prison. The Human Stain isn't a movie of ideas, and it's too inert to be a probing character study. No stain is left behind, just a wan watermark.

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