Screen Time: 80%
Role: Dolores Haze
Age: 16 years old
Directed: Adrian Lyne
Genre: Coming of Age, Drama, Romance
Humbert Humbert, a British professor coming to the US to teach, rents a room in Charlotte Haze's house, but only after he sees her 14-year-old daughter, Dolores (Lolita), to whom he is immediately attracted. Though he hates the mother, he marries her as this is the only way to be close to the girl, who will prove to be too mature for her age. They start a journey together, trying to hide they're not just (step)father and daughter, throughout the country, being followed by someone whom Humbert first suspects to be from the police. The profound jealousy, and maybe some guilt from the forbidden love, seem slowly to drive the man emotionally labile.
Movie ReviewsThe love of a child
Director Adrian Lyne and screenwriter Stephen Schiff remain true to the spirit of Nabokov's Lolita, argues Andrew Worsdale : --
In 1947 Vladimir Nabokov started writing what he dubbed "a short novel about a man who liked little girls". Seven years later he finished it but it was rejected as pornography by American publishers and was finally published in Paris by Olympia Press. After a rash of glowing reviews - Vanity Fair said "it's the only convincing love story of our century" - it was eventually published in the United States.
Stanley Kubrick optioned the movie rights and commissioned Nabokov to write the screenplay which, in its original form, evidently ran at 400 pages (about seven hours of screen time).
Kubrick's version was a cool, ironic, droll piece of work that didn't focus so much on the sexual aspects of the novel but more on the mystery, with Peter Sellers as the baddie, Quilty, taking up far more screen time than his presence in the book.
With the arrival of the new version of Lolita, audiences and fans of the original novel will be satisfied with the way director Adrian Lyne and screenwriter Stephen Schiff remain true to the novel.
Kubrick used only a fraction of Nabokov's material in his movie, whereas Lyne embraces the obsessive sexual nature of the material. This is why the film has caused such a furore, being dubbed paedophilic pornography. You couldn't show such things in 1962, but after Showgirls and Basic Instinct I suppose any peccadilloes are fine.
The film is finally being released in the US and when audiences see it they'll probably wonder what all the fuss was about. Although arch, at times, with its eroticism, Lolita is seriously tragic.
It's the kind of movie you can get your teeth into (unintentional pun - but then writing about this controversial movie was never going to be easy. One US pundit wrote: "overheard on leaving the theatre -woman says: "I feel like a young girl now." Man (excitedly): "So do I").
For those that don't know the story, it involves a professor of French literature, Humbert Humbert (played in doomed-lover style by Jeremy Irons), and his obsession with his landlady's 14-year-old nymphet daughter (in the novel she was 12). Melanie Griffith, in nice understated bimbo mode, plays the landlady and Dominique Swain plays the daughter.
Events in the story lead to a journey across the US and it turns into a shagfest. All along, the mysterious Quilty (played with lugubrious charm by Frank Langella) snakes through the story. He's Humbert's nemesis and a doyen of kiddie porn.
Lyne, who has dealt with sex before in 9½ weeks, Fatal Attraction and Indecent Proposal, is a flashy director, but this movie has enough class to allow for all his stylistic indulgences. Not since Jacob's Ladder, his terrifying examination of war-induced psychosis, has he had such solid material to exercise his cinematic flourishes. Sure, Lolita as played by Dominique Swain is highly sexualised and the portrayal is sometimes even corny. She's always sucking on something and when we first see her she's being drenched by a garden sprinkler - you know, all the obvious sexual imagery.
But it is mainly through Iron's stunning performance that we feel the real gravitas of the story. He is perfectly cast as the rather fussy, obsessive man whose loss of a childhood love has made him lust for young girls.
The main strength of the picture is that Irons, Lyne and screenwriter Schiff play with the audience's sympathy for the man and their loathing for a supposed paedophile. But there's no porno in this movie, except for a couple of typically Lyne erotic moves. The nub of the film is its deep sense of tragedy - of innocence pursued and then fatally lost.
Although not plumbing the cynical satirism of Nabokov's novel, Lyne's Lolita is still a faithful rendition of the story. And with Howard Atherton behind the camera (he shot Indecent Proposal and Bad Boys) it's definitely a must-see.