In the late 1990s, writer Nathan Zuckerman (Gary Sinise) has settled in a lakeside New England cabin following his second divorce and a battle with prostate cancer. His quiet life is interrupted by Coleman Silk (Anthony Hopkins), a former dean and professor of classics at local Athena College, who was forced to resign after being accused of making racist remarks in class.
Coleman’s wife died suddenly following the scandal, and he wants to avenge his loss of career and companion by writing a book about the events with Nathan’s assistance.The project is placed on the back burner when Coleman has an affair with Faunia Farley (Nicole Kidman), a considerably younger, semi-literate woman who supports herself by working at menial jobs, including at the college.
Their relationship is threatened by the faculty members who forced Coleman from his job and by Faunia’s stalker ex-husband Lester (Ed Harris), a mentally unbalanced Vietnam War veteran who blames her for the deaths of their children in an accident. Flashbacks of Coleman’s life reveal to the audience his secret—he is an African American who has passed as a Jewish white man for most of his adult life.
Screening in English.