Country: UK, USA
Language: English, French
Genre: Drama, Romance
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Writer: Vladimir Nabokov
based on his own novel
Music: Nelson Riddle
Cinematography: Oswald Morris
Just finished watching this film, so I want to record what’s inside my head. Kubrick is definitely one of my favorite directors, and I had also watched 1997 version of LOLITA by Adrian Lyne around 10 years ago. So without re-watching the latter, it is difficult for me to compare these two films at this moment.
Obviously enough LOLITA is a tacky job for any director, because its story and characters, four main characters were all so unlovable by their own selfishness. Humbert is propelled by his eccentric lust, Charlotte is driven by her shameless desperation, Lolita, of course, she is manipulating all the male who coveted her beauty, as for Quilty, his evil side is more understandable in a franker way. So with four “bad” characters tangled with each other, who is the ultimate winner? the answer is our little nymph LOLITA!
The acting is strong, but apart from two main leaders, I am more impressed by Shelley Winters, who delivers a more powerful punch as a lonely single mother who just needs someone to love her and chooses a wrong man by her own wishful thinking. So after Charlotte’s death, the latter part of the film loses its intense gusto. Peter Sellers is dislikeable and weird with his strange accent (it is said he imitates Kubrick), he shows his acting talent but annoys me. James Mason is well-captured of the goody-goody professor, but as his positive image (I still vividly remember his role in A STAR IS BORN) really roots inside my mind, I fear that he is trying too hard to elaborate the character. Sue Lyon as Lolita, no question it is a great start for anyone’s acting career, she is adorable with a disproportional maturity. Frankly speaking her role actually is the easiest one, all one need is to find the right person, and Kubrick did it. Owing to the censor system at 1960s, no sex scene is shot between Humbert and Lolita, maybe that’s why there is a detectable incompatibility between them, which makes all the innuendos are unconvincing.
The film is largely overshadowed at the time when it has been released in 1962, without much major recognition in Oscars, definitely not Kubrick’s best work, it still shines with its contemporary wit of how one can be dragged by his uncontrollable lust deep inside him.