Lolita (1962)

Lolita (1962)

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: James Mason, Shelley Winters, Sue Lyon

A professor of French literature becomes fixated on the daughter of his landlady and dedicates his life to pursuing his obsession with her.

Prior to seeing this, I only knew the basic premise of Lolita and the controversy it spawned. Well, I figured I should get some firsthand perspective. I can't speak for the original novel, but this adaptation isn't explicit about the subject matter and the title character was aged up to make it slightly less incendiary but still warrant some sit-down time with Chris Hansen. While the characters are despicable human beings, they're stunningly performed. As Professor Humbert, James Mason's usual suaveness is hollowed out to create an awkward man who swerves into jealous possessiveness and ultimately collapses into a pathetic mess. Sue Lyon impressively holds her own opposite a screen legend like Mason as Lolita. Shelley Winters does a good job of bringing the crazy as Lolita's mother Charlotte and Peter Sellers is a delight as the lisping motormouth Quilty. Now, as I said, the film is somewhat circumspect on the details, but the subject matter may nevertheless be too sensitive for some viewers and if that's indeed the case, you should spare yourself. Otherwise, this is a well-made, well-acted study of some rather broken people.

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