Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 42% of 155 professional critics gave the film a positive review, with a rating average of 5.48/10. It is slowly revealed through Zuckerman's musings that Silk is an African-American who has been "passing" as a Jew since a stint in the Navy. This page was last edited on 14 September 2020, at 04:31. The uproar leads to Silk's resignation. "[5], David Stratton of Variety described it as "an intelligent adaptation of Philip Roth's arguably unfilmable novel powered by two eye-catching performances … A key problem Benton is unable to avoid is that Hopkins and Miller don't look (or talk) the least bit like one another. [14] He was of Louisiana Creole ancestry. Flashbacks of Coleman's life reveal to the audience his secret: he is an African-American who has "passed" as a white Jewish man for most of his adult life. "Interpreting Academic Identities: Reality and Fiction on Campus", Kaplan, Brett Ashley (2005). [17], This article is about the novel. Kidman and Hopkins are wrong for their roles, and that, combined with a pervading inevitability, cuts the film off from any sustained vitality. Plot Keywords It was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival, the Bergen International Film Festival, and the Hollywood Film Festival before its theatrical release in the US. Silk begins a relationship with Faunia Farley, a 34-year-old local woman who works as a janitor at the college and is believed to be illiterate. Les says, “And now you know my secret spot. Synopsis In the late 1990s, writer Nathan Zuckerman (Gary Sinise) has settled in a lakeside New England cabin following his second divorce and a battle with prostate cancer. . [4] Roth said he wrote the trilogy to reflect periods in the 20th century – the McCarthy years, the Vietnam War, and President Bill Clinton's impeachment – that he thinks are the "historical moments in post-war American life that have had the greatest impact on my generation."[5]. Their relationship is threatened by the faculty members who forced Coleman from his job and by Faunia's stalker ex-husband Lester (Ed Harris), a mentally unbalanced Vietnam War veteran who blames her for the deaths of their children in an accident. It's just that the believability gap looms large. . Winship/PEN New England Award (2001), Safer, Elaine B. "Philip Roth's Great Books: A Reading of The Human Stain". "[3] As stated above, Roth clarifies that Coleman Silk was inspired "by an unhappy event in the life of [Roth's] late friend Melvin Tumin."[3]. The film stars Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, Gary Sinise and Ed Harris. The Human Stain (2000) is a novel by Philip Roth that was published on May 5, 2000. It's nice to have a secret spot. [2][7] Other writers in the academic and mainstream press made the same suggestion. Here are complex, troubled, flawed people, brave enough to breathe deeply and take one more risk with their lives. . Miller, who gives a strong, muted performance, convinces as a light-skinned African-American in a way Hopkins never does, which is not to suggest that the Welsh-born actor doesn't give another intelligent, powerful portrayal. | You know everything. Indeed, it closely parallels the story of Nathan Zuckerman, himself another dutiful, middle-class boy from New Jersey who rebelled against his family and found himself exiled, 'unbound' as it were, from his roots. Six months later, he's hanging out with recluse writer Nathan; Coleman wants him to write a book on the topic; he declines. Soon after, his wife Iris dies of a stroke, which Silk feels is caused by the stress of his being forced out of the college. Tumin was subject to a "witch hunt" but was ultimately found blameless in a matter involving use of allegedly racial language concerning two African-American students. The film debuted at the Venice Film Festival. Coleman's wife died suddenly following the scandal, and he wants to avenge his loss of career and companion by writing a book about the events with Nathan's assistance. When a disgraced former college dean has a romance with a mysterious younger woman haunted by her dark, twisted past, he is forced to confront a shocking fact about his own life that he has kept secret for fifty years. Note: "The Human Stain" contains a significant secret about one of the characters. The novel was well received, became a national bestseller, and won numerous awards. Its first person narrator is 65-year-old author Nathan Zuckerman, who appeared in several earlier Roth novels, and who also figures in both American Pastoral (1997) and I Married a Communist (1998), two books that form a loose trilogy with The Human Stain. The American dream of starting over entirely new has the force of inevitability here, and Roth's judgment clearly is that you can never make it all the way. It’s nice to have a secret spot. The story is told by Nathan Zuckerman, a writer who lives quietly in New England, where Coleman Silk is his neighbor. | Its screenplay, by Nicholas Meyer, is based on the novel of the same name by Philip Roth. Not many movies probe into matters of identity or adaptation. [1], The Human Stain received mixed reviews. "Anatole Broyard's Human Stain: Performing Postracial Consciousness.". 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 of his life, and to understand how this ingeniously contrived life became unravelled. The site's consensus reads, "Though the acting is fine, the leads are miscast, and the story is less powerful on screen than on the page. When stripped of its racial overtones, Roth's book echoes a story he has told in novel after novel. Philip Roth's Great Books: A Reading of The Human Stain. The film stars Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, Gary Sinise and Ed Harris. . "[7], The Times of London called it "sapping and unbelievable melodrama … an unforgivably turgid lecture about political correctness."[8]. | The Human Stain ends with Zuckerman finding Les Farley ice fishing in the middle of a secluded lake. Tierney, William G. (2002). Showing all 3 items Jump to: Summaries (2) Synopsis (1) Summaries. He never told his wife and children of his African-American ancestry. Faisst, Julia (2006). The Human Stain is a 2003 drama film directed by Robert Benton. For the movie, see. "Delusionary Thinking, Whether White or Black or in Between: Fictions of Race in Philip Roth's, Kaplan, Brett Ashley (2005). Parents Guide. Its deepest flaw is an inability to link those moments of empathy and insight into a continuous drama, to suggest that the characters' lives keep going when they are not on screen. His downfall to some extent is engineered by Delphine Roux, the young, female, elite, French intellectual who is dismayed to find herself in a New England outpost of sorts, and sees Silk as having become deadwood in academia, the very thing he abhorred at the beginning of his own career."[6]. . The result is something admirable but lifeless. [3][15] In Roth's words, written in "An Open Letter to Wikipedia" and published by The New Yorker: "Neither Broyard nor anyone associated with Broyard had anything to do with my imagining anything in The Human Stain. Here he examines the cut-throat and, at times, petty, atmosphere in American academia, in which "political correctness" was upheld. "[4], In the San Francisco Chronicle, Mick LaSalle called it "a mediocre movie … [that] falls victim to a fatal lack of narrative drive, suspense and drama. You know everything. "[3], Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times observed, "We have to suspend disbelief over the casting, but that's easier since we can believe the stories of these people. There is no comfort in this vision, but the tranquility Zuckerman achieves as he tells the story is infectious, and that is a certain reward. In the reviews of the book in both the daily and the Sunday New York Times in 2000, Kakutani and Lorrie Moore suggested that the central character of Coleman Silk might have been inspired by Anatole Broyard, a well-known New York literary editor of the Times. Coleman Silk is a classics professor, a man who was once well respected in his small community before an accusation took from him the identity he spent fifty years creating. "It's out there already with the Philip Roth novel. She wrote the following interpretation: It is a book that shows how the public Zeitgeist can shape, even destroy, an individual's life, a book that takes all of Roth's favorite themes of identity and rebellion and generational strife and refracts them not through the narrow prism of the self but through a wide-angle lens that exposes the fissures and discontinuities of 20th-century life. A national bestseller, The Human Stain was adapted as a film by the same name directed by Robert Benton. [3], The Human Stain is the third in a trilogy, following American Pastoral and I Married a Communist, in which Roth explores American morality and its effects. The Human Stain is a 2003 drama film directed by Robert Benton. Silk is accused of racism by two African-American students over the use of the word spooks, using the term to describe their absence from the classroom (like ghosts) rather than in the racially derogatory sense. As Roth wrote in the novel, Silk chose "to take the future into his own hands rather than to leave it to an unenlightened society to determine his fate". "[6], In Rolling Stone, Peter Travers said, "Hopkins and Kidman … are both as mesmerizing as they are miscast … The Human Stain is heavy going.

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