Movie Review No. 40: "Lolita" (1962). The tagline for this movie was "How did they ever make a movie of Lolita?" Aside from being a tagline, it's actually not that bad of a question. It takes a groundbreaking auteur like #stanleykubrick to film a controversial adaptation of a controversial novel.
Based on the novel by Vladimir Nabokov, who also wrote the screenplay, the film follows a middle-aged English professor from Europe named Humbert Humbert (#jamesmason). Humbert stays in the home of sex-craving widow Charlotte Haze (#shelleywinters). Charlotte wants Humbert, but he is completely enamored with her daughter, Lolita (#suelyon). He is so enamored that he marries Charlotte to be closer to Lolita. Charlotte later discovers Humbert's feelings for Lolita, she sends her daughter to summer camp. When Charlotte unexpectedly dies (SPOILER ALERT!), Humbert goes after Lolita, thinking that he has her to himself, and they set off across the country together.
Kubrick is definitely more present in this movie as director. What's interesting is that Lolita isn't about spectacle like some of his other films. It is mostly substance, but still has plenty of style. The film is mostly about the story and dialogue, which is necessary, if unconventional. One may argue that Kubrick screws us over doing this, but it helps advance the movie and make it great.
The screenplay and acting go together very well, particularly with Humbert. His characterization is something to marvel at. As the main character, we don't really have a choice but to root for him, but we also hate him for engaging in an illicit affair with a 14-year-old girl. The interest we have in him never fades, but Kubrick's approach is to have him become less interesting as the films wears on. He's made to be pretty pathetic by the end because he's been undone by something that was never meant to be. James Mason's performance adds to this, as he conveys what could be unrequited love or jealousy, but also could be helplessness. Sue Lyon stands out as Lolita. She captures what we can assume is rebellion, but also innocence when it comes to what's really mature.
CONTINUED IN THE COMMENTS.