Whitewashing the barren soul

I must refrain.

From several things, but most of all, I will refrain from giving out the details of this film because it's one of those that lives or dies on the careful execution of its plot. Enough said there.

What I can say is that we follow two timelines for the same character, one Coleman Silk. We start with the elder Silk (Anthony Hopkins) toward the end of his life, and intermingle it with those events that shaped the younger Silk (newcomer Wentworth Miller).

I will not refrain from singing the praises of Nicole Kidman. This is the finest work I've seen from her - albeit that statement may come at the negligence of my not having seen her Oscar-winning performance in The Hours. The way she disappears completely into this husky-voiced, haunted character is amazing. If not for her height and flawless features, it would be easy to not recognize her at all.

The Human Stain is a hopelessly beautiful film, due in large part to the late cinematographer Jean-Yves Escoffier. You've probably seen his work before, and he leaves behind an appropriate schooling in lighting and composition here. Watch how he captures the erratic head movements of the caged crow - or the sense of movement in the scene where Hopkins and Gary Sinise are dancing on the patio.

I want to write on themes and how we are left to draw our own conclusions in many places... but aside from letting the details out of the bag, it just seems more succinct to say that this is one of those rare films that can provoke meaningful conversation - the sort that may not have satisfying answers. That's the kind of film we should see more of.

It's rare to see a film that is simultaneously smart, powerful, and sexy... perhaps Kidman's Eyes Wide Shut is the last I can think of at this moment. As an adaptation (Philip Roth's novel), there's a few things that fall by the wayside, but such minor fluff you'll only see it if you're looking for it. Altogether, this is one very well put together package.

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