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THE HUMAN STAIN
USA: Miramax Films
UK: Buena Vista International UK
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, Ed Harris, Gary Sinise, Wentworth Miller, Jacinda Barrett, Harry J Lennix, Clark Gregg, Anna Deavere Smith, Lizan Mitchell, Kerry Washington, Phyllis Newman, Margo Martindale, Ron Canada, Mili Avital, John Cenatiempo, Anne Dudek, John Finn, Charles W Gray, Mimi Kuzyk, Nwamiko Madden, Fred Wells, Lydia Zadel
Director: Robert Benton
Countries: USA / Germany / France
USA: 106 mins
UK: 105 mins
USA Rated: R for language and sexuality/nudity
UK Certificate: 18 contains very strong language
USA Release Date: 31 October 2003
UK Release Date: 23 January 2004
Based on Pulitzer Prize-winning author Philip Roth's best-selling novel, THE HUMAN STAIN is the story of Coleman Silk, who throughout his life has been a master of deception and self-reinvention. As a promising college student (Wentworth Miller), Coleman's first love, Steena (Jacinda Barrett), is shattered by a secret. Years later, as an esteemed professor (Anthony Hopkins), his career is ruined by false accusations. Now, as he embarks on a scandalous affair with the mysterious Faunia (Nicole Kidman), Coleman experiences an erotic reawakening that carries him back to the past. But with his resurrected passion also comes the threat of danger from Faunia's ex-husband (Ed Harris), and Coleman is faced with the imperative to expose his true identity before it is too late.
Set in 1998, when the nation was immersed in the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, THE HUMAN STAIN is a journey of ambition, individualism, deceit and the yearning for love, which probes the roles of identity and independence, race and prejudice, brutality and tenderness in the shaping of the American psyche.
At its core, THE HUMAN STAIN is about one man's bold attempt to reinvent himself, to escape history's turmoil, only to have his carefully contrived life unraveled by sexual longing and the need to share the truth with someone. Since his youth in the intolerant 1940s, Coleman Silk, who is an extremely light-skinned African American (his mother calls him "white as snow"), has successfully passed himself off as white, as others have throughout American history, in order to find more personal liberty. (Roth writes: "All he'd ever wanted from earliest childhood on, was to be free, not black, not even white - just on his own and free.")
But he has done so at a terrible cost. With Faunia, his last and most perilous love, Coleman has a final shot at redemption - as he at last discovers, under threat, the intimacy to share with one person his secret.