Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
Premise: An adaptation of Vladmir Nabolkov’s novel about a man (James Mason) who has an illicit relationship with a minor (Sue Lyon).
What Works: The film is unexpectedly very funny in a subtle way. James Mason’s performance as Humbert has a lot to do with this, as he plays his role straight and lets the other actors and the chaos of the situation drive the humor. Kubrick’s Lolita is highly erotic in the truest sense of the word. Like Nabolkov’s novel, the film does not dwell on or explicitly show Humbert’s lust but goes for the truly erotic, which is always tied to subtlety.
What Doesn’t: The film does not possess the master camerawork that later Kubrick films demonstrate. Fans of the book may be distressed at the adaptation as the film loses the novel’s play with the complexity of language.
DVD extras: None.
Bottom Line: Kubrick’s Lolita is a truly cinematic translation of the novel and an important film in Kubrick’s body of work as an auteur filmmaker. It is a film about love, lust, and all of the stupid things done in their name.
Episode: #39 (February 13, 2005)