Lobo's Movie Reviews

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Movie Review: The Human Stain

Story: The Human Drain would have been a better title for this yawn of a film. I actually went to see another film but it was no longer playing at this theater (more on not believing what newspapers say later this week) so I settled for this film. Turns out it was A REALLY BIG MISTAKE!

Based on a true story, from a novel by Philip Roth, seasoned director Robert Benton misses the boat on many levels. The film deals with difficult issues such as secrets, racism, sexual abuse and political correctness gone amok. None of these issues are handled well. The film is disjointed, lifeless, boring and uninspired. Did I mention that the casting also stunk?

Within minutes of the start of the film Professor Coleman Silk loses his 35 year tenure at a prestigious NE college, becomes a widow, befriends a recluse and starts an affair with a much younger woman who is a cleaning woman and a milkmaid (really) who has a psycho ex-husband that is stalking her. Everyone is hiding secrets and after a while, between the flashbacks and the melodrama, I couldn't have cared less what happened to anyone and just hoped it would be over sooner rather than later.

Save your movie money. Perhaps go out and read Roth's novel. It has to be better than this.

Acting: With a cast that includes Nicole Kidman, Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris and Gary Senise one would think that this film would be a winner. The lead actors (Kidman and Hopkins) are hopelessly miscast and after that destruction nothing else matters very much.

Predilection: None.

Critters: A crow that looked as baffled as I did while watching this train wreck.

Food: Toast (the films should have been toast).

Visual Art: Attention to detail in the various locations was quite good.

Blatant Product Placement: None.

Soundtrack: Pleasant to the ear.

Opening Titles: White titles superimposed over a car driving on a snowy road.

Theater Audience: I ended up in the secret balcony with one other person. I did hear laughter from below but I don't know how may other suckers were in the theater.

Squirm Scale: 4 (I squirmed until it was over).

Predictability Level: Who cared? Curiously, the opening scene tells us what happens to the two lead characters which took all of the tension out of the film.

Tissue Usage: I cried tears of joy because it was finally over.

Oscar Worthy: A BIG NO!

Nit Picking: Too many to list. I hate narrators and this film also had a narrator.

Big Screen or Rental: Neither. How about trying some of director/writer Robert Benton's other films such as: Twilight, Nobody's Fool, Billy Bathgate, Places in the Heart, Still of the Night and Kramer vs. Kramer.

Length: Thankfully under two hours.