Thursday, Dec. 18, 2003

The Human Stain

Novelist Philip Roth wrapped all the great American tragedies — race, sex, class tensions — into one superbly snakey narrative. Writer Nicholas Meyer and director Robert Benton have made a sinuous adaptation of Roth's work, capturing his bleak, compelling irony with unforced perfection. The leading players — Anthony Hopkins as a black professor pretending to be a white man, Nicole Kidman as a rich girl masquerading as trailer-park trash — are only unlikely at first glance. They insinuate themselves into our grieving hearts with perfectly understated passion.