The Human Stain, movie on DVD
Five out of five stars
At the opening, this film seems to be yet another remake of the older man falling for a flawed, much younger woman. Anthony Hopkins plays Coleman Silk, an aged professor of the classics at a prestiguous university. His stated ethnicity is Jewish and through the power of his personality and intellect, he has turned the university into an academic powerhouse.
However, Silk runs afoul of the politically correct police when he talks in class about two students on his class roster that have never attended. He openly asks the class if they are “spooks,” meaning of course that they are ghosts. Since he has never seen the two people, Silk does not know that they are African-American, so he is brought before a review committee and accused of racism. Furious at their indictment, Silk resigns in a huff and leaves the university.
When his wife of many years dies, Silk is naturally lonely and encounters a women in her early thirties played by Nicole Kidman. They quickly become lovers, but the viewer learns very quickly that this woman is severely emotionally compromised with a murderous ex-husband.
Despite the power of this aspect of the story, there is a far deeper undercurrent in the life of Silk. It is a secret that he has kept from everyone for decades. While the reader understands why he would take the course of action that he did, it is also clear that it is a slow-growing cancer on his psyche. This turns what would otherwise been a good, steamy thriller about an older man trying to live again into an outstanding movie.