Lolita (1997)

The 1962 version of Lolita with James Mason always creeped me out, right from the opening credits. I’ve never been able to watch it. I looked it up before writing this paragraph, and suddenly the light went on. Here’s my sheepish admission: I hate Stanley Kubrick. Only one film of his made any impression on me (A Clockwork Orange) and even that was hard to get through. I’ve seen most of his films simply because most of my friends love him, so I thought I had to be wrong about him. Alas, after all my efforts, I find him unbearable. So there. My secret is out.

But this isn’t about Kubrick, this is about Adriane Lyne’s gorgeous adaptation of Nabokov’s most famous novel.

Irons plays Humbert Humbert with an amazing sympathy. Yes, his actions are still reprehensible, but it’s clear to see that his feelings for Delores are genuine–he’s completely in love and enslaved by her. Lo is hardly blameless, and still because of her age she is not blamed. Conflicts are whispered on the faces of Irons and Dominique Swain long before they surface in the film. Charismatic and skillful, they turn in great performances that would not have been ignored but for the controversy surrounding the film.

The only misstep is the casting of Melanie Griffith. She is suitably obnoxious, but her tongue doesn’t wrap around the language of the script. The inflexibility of her trademark voice has often been a handicap, but in this case it should have put her out of the running.

1 Responses to Lolita (1997)

  1. Rozzlyn says:

    I, too, loathe Stanley Kubrick. I find the man the most unbearable of the unbearable pretentious hacks. He’d built a career out of destroying other people’s novels (like “A Clockwork Orange” — sorry, I have nothing but respect for its author Anthony Burgess) and now I’m glad he’s gone.

    I’m sorry, but you don’t know me, and I’m in a sleep-deprivation-induced “I hate ____”-mood. I should go sleep now.