Director: Stanley Kubrick
Based on the novel of the same name by Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita tells the tale of Dr. Humbert, a professor who after receiving a new placing at a college in Ohio, seeks out a room for him to let. Charlotte Haze, a middle aged widow, hears of Dr. Humbert and offers him an invitation to stay at her house. Humbert declines the invitation until he meets Charlotte’s promiscuous, teenage daughter Lolita. Humbert quickly develops an infatuation for Lolita and subsequently decides to accept Charlotte’s offer, despite him finding her pitiful and desperate. Soon after Humbert moves in, the lonely Charlotte begins to crave his attention more and more, until eventually sending Lolita away to summer camp so she can have him all to herself. Humbert quickly decides that the only he will ever be able to continue seeing Lolita, is if he marries Charlotte, despite him harbouring no feelings for her whatsoever. The two’s marriage quickly turns sour, with Humbert wanting only isolation to write in his journal, and Charlotte wanting only to be with Humbert all of the time. One day after one of their usual fights Charlotte finds Humbert’s secret journal and reads it, disgusted at the contents relating to her young daughter. Humbert quickly tries to settle the matter, going into the kitchen to make a martini for them both. When he returns with the drinks he sees the door wide open, and his wife’s dead body lying on the road, having jumped in front of a passing car. Humbert, unworried by his wife’s untimely death, sees the event as an opportunity to get closer to Lolita, whom he withdraws prematurely from summer camp, telling her that her mother is just in hospital and not actually dead. Lolita promptly accepts Humbert’s fabrications as truth, and accompanies him on a road trip around America.
Lolita is often unfairly overlooked when it comes to listing the pivotal films of Kubrick’s career, and while it may not be as masterfully crafted as the likes of 2001 and A Clockwork Orange. It still provides a riveting and exhaustive insight into one man’s guilty obsession and how it completely destroys his life. Powerhouse actor James Mason is terrific as the detestable Humbert Humbert, as are Shelley Winters as Charlotte and Sue Lyon as the flirtatious Lolita. Darkly comical, cynical and at times delightfully exaggerated, Lolita sheds a new light on the preconceived notion of idealistic suburban life.