Lolita (1997) Film Review

Lolita is a film based on the novel written by Vladimir Nabokov. It was aired in 1997 and is the successor to the 1962 version. Adrian Lyne directed the film, and Stephen Schiff screen wrote it. The film was produced within a 58 million dollar budget all while being shot at 26 different locations. The film stars Jeremy Irons as Humbert Humbert' the closest character to an antagonist, Dominique Swain as Dolores Lolita' Haze' the young nymphet and Melanie Griffith as Charlotte Haze' the mother caught between it all. Although the nature of its contents are controversial when it comes down to it, Lolita is a story about crime, love and the way in which the past can often haunt the present.

Humbert Humbert is a middle-aged divorcee who is introduced to the Haze household while looking for a suitable place to live. Charlotte Haze, the homeowner, goes to the ends of the earth to point out any detail that might interest Humbert in staying in her home. Her exceptional hospitality and eagerness for him to lodge in her house translate to a slight crush. Humbert finds the house to be rather dull and Miss Haze to be so too until he spots her 14-year-old daughter sitting on the lawn beneath a sprinkler, nonchalantly flipping through a magazine. The very sight of the young girl, Dolores (only Humbert calls her Lolita), seals the deal for him. Humbert and Lolita form a bond that is so full of miscommunication and moral misdemeanors, no one makes it out unscathed, not even the viewer. Dolores possesses a rather flirty, loose, and rebellious personality. She refuses to go to church with her mother and prefers to spend her time gossiping with her friends, seemingly doing whatever she can to feel like more of an adult. Although Dolores represents a percentage of the teenage girl population, Humbert sees her as a "nymphet" which he describes as a girl with demonic tendencies that the average Joe could not pick out from a crowd.

I chose the 1997 take on this story because of Jeremy Irons and Dominique Swain. Jeremy Irons played Humbert exquisitely because he captured the many facets of Humbert's personality. Unlike the 1962 version, Irons portrayed Humbert as more than an older man who thought women his age were grotesque. He conveyed Humbert's unhealthy yearning for his adolescence, and his body language brought Humbert's obsessive nature to life. I found Dominique Swain's interpretation of Dolores Haze to be spot on. She was an expert at depicting Dolores' playful nature, and this was evident in the scenes where Dolores would sneak downstairs at night to eat raspberries off her fingers, steal food and the way she would obnoxiously chew her gum. Although Adrian Lyne had an optimistic vision of the film, he once stated "The book is so great, you're doomed to fail,"which made it evident that his intentions were not to replicate the book, but to produce an interpretation.

Although many agents and executives supposedly sent Adrian Lyne letters of how moved and overwhelmed they were by his film, finding a distributor was a challenging task. At the time, Lolita was considered too controversial to be aired. According to IMDb, based on a total of 37,481 votes the film has a 6.9/10 rating. David Nusair of Reel Film Reviews states that Lolita is "arguably the most controversial film of the decade" and gave it 3 out of 4 stars.

Personally, I found Lolita to be the most enticing movie I have seen in awhile. It caused me to reevaluate my beliefs about the relationships that dictate my life. I spent hours questioning the boundaries I value, and started to wonder when I constructed them, or if my environment had done so. Lolita replicated the eerie sense of mystery found in Vladimir Nabokov's writing through the narrator, Humbert Humbert who seems to leave details out and waters his real feelings down. But most of all, there is nothing like a film that continues to make you think even after the credits have flashed on the screen, and Lolita is one of those for sure.