The Human Stain

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Time Out says

A professor of classics at a respected New England university, Coleman Silk would seem to be on life's home straight, until he loses his job to political correctness, his wife to a heart attack and his dignity to waitressing floozie Faunia Farley. This dramatic fall from grace is occasioned by Coleman's use of the word 'spook' - he claims innocence of any modern, racist connotations, but to no avail. There's an underlying irony here, but Coleman is the only one who appreciates it, and he's keeping quiet... which puts the critic in an invidious position. What price a dramatic revelation some 30 minutes in? Suffice to say, this would-be prestigious literary adaptation, from a novel by Philip Roth, is lovingly crafted, but has fundamental problems. Hopkins is convincing for about half an hour; it's not that you can't buy his Coleman, just that you can't believe he's even distantly related to Wentworth Miller, who plays the same character in flashback with a deal more conviction. But Nicole Kidman is even worse, miscast and mannered as the trashy Faunia, a character lugging even more dead weight in her emotional baggage. It says something that the most romantic scene is a slow dance between Hopkins and Gary Sinise, as the narrator, Nathan Zuckerman. Director Benton got small town Americana emphatically right in Nobody's Fool, but he's defeated here by a novel with too much back-story. The movie sinks under its lofty ambitions.

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