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The Human Stain review

Can you believe Nicole Kidman as a downtrodden, uneducated janitor named Faunia? Just about? Okay, then try to imagine her jumping into the sack with Anthony Hopkins' widowed classics professor. No, didn't think so.

Of course, it doesn't help that Hopkins is totally miscast as Coleman Silk, a Jewish academic harbouring a `shameful' secret in Robert Benton's too-faithful adap of Philip Roth's novel. It's hard to swallow Wales' most famous thesp in such a role, while his post-Hannibal flab renders his fling with Kidman's white-trash potty-mouth all the more laughable.

That's not all: screenwriter Nick Meyer struggles in vain to convey Roth's big themes (class, race, guilt); clunky flashbacks confuse more than they enlighten; and a bungled ending ties everything up with a turd on top. A stain on the CVs of everyone involved, only made bearable by fine turns from Wentworth Miller as the young Coleman and Ed Harris as Faunia's scary ex-hubby.

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