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This is a classic film! Daring for its time (and impossible to make today in this METOO and clergy pedophilia era), the performances are fantastic. Sue Lyons is 14 years old in this and she is wonderful - her performance is simply astounding and as mature and sophisticated as anyone's: seductive, petulant and innocent all at once. Mason is great and as the film progresses, his increasing frustration and dissolution pulls at the viewer even as we are ourselves seduced. Shelley Winters' role is the most one-dimensional given that she is supposed to be the immature 'child', and yet she brings a vitality to the screen, so that even as we laugh at her, we can feel her pain. Which brings me to Peter Sellers. It's common knowledge that his Clare Quilty was written as a much smaller role but his manic gift and remarkable talent moved Kubrick to enlarge it. Just sit back and loathe him even as you sit wide-eyed and slack-jawed at his charisma. You really want to see the first scene in full at the end just for the satisfaction of watching Quilty get his comeuppance. All in all, I reject the critics who disparage this film. It does justice to the Nabokov book while skirting the movie code restrictions as best as could be done at the time.
Quite like the namesake, it's tough to pinpoint exactly what about Lolita is so brilliant
Something feels terribly wrong and quite unsettling; I'm extremely riveted, and not offended at all!
This is exactly what I feel while watching a film by Paul Thomas Anderson, David Lynch, Yorgos Lanthimos (I've only seen The Lobster, though) and Darren Aronofsky. All of these filmmakers can incredibly turn their pervert and sick films to some otherwise digestable and very interesting films. That said, there's no one ever who's better than Stanley Kubrick in doing that (PTA is right after him).
I'm not saying that because Kubrick is my favourite out of the aforementioned directors; it's actually the exact opposite. I've never been the biggest fan of Kubrick's works, and the fact the only of his films I didn't like are his arguable masterpieces, Dr. Strangelove and 2001, is the strongest proof. However, one of the few things I liked about these two films, and I've found in all of Kubrick's films, is exactly what Kubrick does best: creating some sort of attractively disquieting and ambiguous atmosphere (don't ask me how or what does that even mean) that I simply couldn't resist even if the film itself bored the hell out of me.
For this reason, I think there's no better choice than Kubrick to adapt a novel that deals with a taboo subject matter such as Lolita. But why didn't I, and clearly many others, find the result to be perfect?
Unlike the majority of people, I didn't hate that Kubrick took sort of a lighthearted comedic approach to the story. In fact, I don't even think that's 100% true. I'd rather calling it a camouflage than an approach. Lolita is a drama film through and through; it has a pinch of black humour, which gives the film a very unique and refreshing tone. In doing so, with the help of Kubrick trademarks (including visual and narrative innuendo and an unsettlingly seductive music), Lolita maintains the edge that distinguishes the novel, I suppose.
I have to admit, though, that the film struggles to keep this lighthearted tone a mere camouflage. As I think that at some point, the film really became kind of a dull lighthearted, and even sometimes a slapstick, comedy that all of its jokes fall flat. As a result, the film isn't constantly sharp.
Maybe it would've been better if the first sequence had been cut off. Not only because the film is a bit overlong (I was thoroughly enjoyed, though), but also because I don't believe it was necessary to begin with the final chronological scene. I mean, I was absolutely curious to know how this film would end this way, but I'm positive that that didn't add anything important to how I perceived the story.
The acting is simply top-notch. All the performances are outstandingly brilliant, especially from Sue Lyon who played the titular role. And all the actors are perfect for their roles, especially James Mason who played Humbert the middle-age lecturer. I mean, he has the most normal-looking face, as Clare Quilty described him. By the way, Peter Sellers stole every single scene he is in. He's definitely a very talented actor, but Kubrick really know how to use his talent perfectly and like no other director does. I'm sure Rick Sanchez is inspired by Clare Quilty more than Back to the Future's Emmett "Doc" Brown. Well, at least regarding his voice and manner of speaking! Shelley Winters is also great.
Lolita is by no means a perfect film that definitely doesn't feature Kubrick at his most mature filmmaking. But it's a an intense, solid depiction of tragic transgression that has everything Kubrick is good at, and would be great at later.
Definitely my favorite Kubrick's movie.
very long boring movie about a pedophile?
What was once shocking material seems rather tame by today's standards. The idea of a man lusting after and consummating a sexual relationship with his stepdaughter is still morally abhorrent but it doesn't quite scandalize the way it would have in 1962 what with the Woody Allen-Soon Yi Previn marriage. Censors in 1962 were also much harsher which means that even though Lolita's sexuality is heavily implied we don't see any Adrian Lyne-style seduction. In some ways these restrictions forced Kubrick to be subtle and the shots of Lolita bathed in sunlight do more to convey Humbert's feelings about her than any gratuitous shots would. It is his bizarre idolization of the teenage temptress that is meant to put us on his side whilst we despise the creepy and manipulative Clare Quilty. Kubrick pulls off the difficult task of balancing all of these odd relationship dynamics and has a handle on this disturbing tale more than most directors do.
Dolores Haze, or Lolita, Sue Lyon, becomes the quixotic obsession of the middle-aged Humbert Humbert, James Mason, and he marries her batty mother Charlotte Haze, Shelley Winters, just to stay close to her. As Humbert begins detailing his fantasies about Lolita in a precariously placed journal his relationship with Charlotte deteriorates and when she commits suicide after discovering his attraction to her daughter Humbert and Lolita are left to their own devices. Always on the periphery however is the unsettling Clare Quilty, Peter Sellers, who is also attracted to the manipulative Lolita. As the relationship between Humbert and Lolita grows more and more sordid Quilty provides a diversion for her that leads to disaster for Lolita and Humbert.
I have to be honest, I really do, I just can't stand Sellers, I know that this is a villainous turn and I was anticipating that my dislike for him as a screen presence would make him a compelling villain but alas I was just as turned-off as always. If I compare his performance to one of my favorite villainous turns, that of Anne Bancroft in The Graduate (1967) I would say he fails terribly he brings none of the charisma, brutal sexuality or touch of melancholy that Bancroft is able to inject so purely into her performance. His performance partially runs the film for me as he takes up a majority of the second half of the film and although Mason is consistently affecting in the lead role I was sort of apathetic to the threat of Quilty. Had Max von Sydow been cast I would have been terrified and mesmerized and although the Swedish accent may have been hard to overcome he would have been a hell of a lot more believable as a creepy seducer.
I think that the first half of the film is stronger than the second, it may be because we see the famous ending first and the superb Winters is there giving it her all but it felt as though when the relationship was consummated the film ran out of steam. Mason and Winters are fabulous together, his uncomfortable grin and clipped British speaking style accompany her vivacious All-American spirit beautifully. Watching them have a conversation, he trying his hardest to get away from the woman he is married to and she trying in vain to deepen their connection is wickedly enjoyable. Both actors seem to understand exactly who their characters need to be for this story to work and the characterization of both as sympathetic figures makes the story more complex and forces the audiences to question their viewpoint more than if Charlotte had been a two-dimensional villain played by a chubby Elizabeth Taylor.
Lyon is convincingly beautiful in a Britt Ekland meets Julie Christie way that makes her attractiveness to the lascivious men around her understandable. She gets very little to do as an actress but as a projection of a sad man's fantasies her presentation as a vixen feels more fitting. It could be argued that fleshing the character out a bit more and having a more able actress play the role would make the film more interesting but that misses the point of the text that the film is based upon, Lolita is not really as she appears through the eyes of Humbert and we only realize that when we see her as an adult.
This is not for the faint of heart and you definitely shouldn't watch it with anyone else because despite it's lack of explicit imagery the subject matter could still make your parents feel a little strange. This is one of the classics in the Kubrick canon and although it's not as ahead of it's time as some of his other pictures it still boasts two great lead performances and a successful adaptation of a difficult to replicate book.
Lolita is a movie that deals with themes that aren’t all that appealing to me. The relationship dynamics are frustrating and creepy. This is intentionally the case because the film is a morality tale that gives the classic “be careful what you wish for” lesson. We’re not supposed to like the core relationships, but that kind of unpleasantness is hard for me to watch. All of the family drama is annoying and the fact that people keep making horrible decisions drives me crazy. That doesn’t change the fact that it is 100% effective at delivering the moral. From the beginning we are able to sympathize with James Mason’s character, but as he digs himself deeper, we realize he has allowed his lusts to control him and we are able to see the folly in his initial desires. James Mason delivers a great performance all the way through, and allows us into the thoughts of his character without needing to be told what he’s thinking all the time. You can read on his face how he’s really feeling and that helps a lot when there is so much that can’t be said. While I’m sure the subtlety in Lolita was a requirement for the censors at the time, I greatly appreciated how they could imply so much without showing or openly talking about the sexual things that are happening. This movie is rife with innuendo, and it works brilliantly. The only problem with that subtle approach was the fact that Sue Lyon simply wasn’t a very good actress. She lacks the nuance to pull off this stuff. She certainly feels like a 60s teenager, but I feel like it would have worked better if Lolita had a somewhat seductive presence at times. I wanted something more from Lyon to convince me why all these men would swoon for her, or that she had any sexual experience at all. The highlight of the film for me was any time Peter Sellers would show up. While he sometimes felt a little over-the-top for the story being told, it was still fun for me to see him do some character work as he kept popping into various scenes throughout the movie. Lolita is a powerful film that has something to say. While it’s not a good one for me, it is effective with a subtlety that is hard to pull off.
The best romance movie ever made!
As cringe-inducing and as uncomfortable as this adaptation of Nabokov's novel is, I can't deny the fact that some deft filmmaking hands are for sure at work here. And with those hands belonging to none other than one Stanley Kubrick, I can at least say that the overall product is worth a look. Again, it's not an easy or particularly palatable watch, but it is well constructed and shot, featuring standout performances from all around.
Interesting, comedic, and suspenseful, Stanley Kubrick's "Lolita" takes its audience immediately with its great writing, camerawork, and direction.