The title of Philip Roth's 2000 novel, The Human Stain, suggests something left behind unwillingly, something to regret, even something to be ashamed of. It alludes to the infamous sexual stain Bill Clinton left on Monica Lewinsky's dress. The novel, and now the film adaptation, are set during the Clinton impeachment hearings, when the media and public couldn't seem to get enough of talk about sex, deceit and desire.
Coleman Silk (Anthony Hopkins) is a respected college professor and dean who is rumbling through his sunset years with a good job and a loving wife. That changes when Coleman is accused of racism for using the word "spooks" in his classroom. Coleman is so angry at such political correctness, and so incensed that the faculty and administration won't stand behind him, that he resigns in a huff, leading to the sudden death of his wife from a heart attack.
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