Second in my Kubrick-a-thon, Lolita caused quite the stir when it was released. Even today, the film’s content should raise a few eyebrows to say the least: a 40-something European professor falls in love with a 14-year old girl, and essentially schemes to remain in her life. Not enterprising material, to say the least, and Kubrick took a big risk (well, several) when he decided to film this adaptation of the Vladimir Nabokov novel. Thankfully, it’s Kubrick, so he finds a way to make it work.
The acting from all involved is stellar; James Mason is distinguished and torn as he falls in love with the daughter (Sue Lyon, in typical teenage rebellion) of his landlord, played by Shelley Winters in effective desperation and loneliness, and the always impressive and comical Peter Sellers is chameleonic as the foil Clare Quilty. The cinematography is striking, mostly because everything is in focus in a Wellesian fashion. I mentioned Kubrick’s skill with blocking elements of the screen in my last review, and I noticed several great examples in this film as well. There’s even a bit of comedy with the cot sequence at the hotel, a genre Kubrick would explore in greater depth with his next film Dr. Strangelove.
Being of a controversial nature to begin with, the film does take a few uncomfortable turns, but for the most part the film is rather tame, keeping its explicit material under the guise of innuendo and visual cues. Don’t be afraid of a film like this, I guess is what I’m trying to get across; it’s not as blatantly repulsive as a cursory examination of the plot would have you believe. The film is in good hands with Mr. Kubrick, and after all, Kubrick can do no wrong.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10
Happy 400 reviews, everyone.