NABOKV-L post 0002377, Wed, 24 Sep 1997 17:43:04 -0700

Re: Lyne-Schiff LOLITA (fwd)
A much more favourable review of the movie from one of Britain's premier
film-critics at its premiere:
Young (and old) love blossoms again
by Derek Malcolm
(The Guardian, 22/9/97)

Adrian Lyne's 'Lolita', a $50,000,000 version of the Vladimir Nabokov book
which, at the present time, no distributor in America will handle, had its world
premiere at Spain's San Sebastian Festival without causing riots in the streets.
Indeed, the sustained applause with which it and its stars were received
indicated that no one thought it was a film likely to encourage paedophilia.

It is, however, totally different to Stanley Kubrick's adaptation, much more
predicated towards the overt sexuality of the central liaison between the
middle-aged Humbert Humbert and the pre-adolescent Lolita.

Instead of James Mason's dirty uncle of a Humbert, we have Jeremy Irons' riven
and obsessive lover who knows he is doing wrong, can't help himself and, at the
end of the film, feels "as if I was sitting with the small ghost of somebody I
have just killed."

As far as morality goes, Lyne, the British director of such Hollywood successes
as 'Flashdance' and 'Fatal Attraction', has stuck to this conception like a
leech - Humbert is not a natural paedophile. He is a guilty man who in the end
destroys both himself and the object of his desire.

In this, he goes even further than Nabokov's book. But in other respects he is
totally, almost too literally, faithful to it. Nor is his film exploitative
towards its difficult subject matter. It merely admits that grown men can be
attracted to the under-aged and attempts to show how and even why.

A lot, of course, depends upon the acting - and here the then 15-year-old
Dominique Swain's Lolita contributes one of the most extraordinary and detailed
portraits of pre-adolescence I have seen on the screen. She totally carries the

Sympathetically handled by Lyne, she given an astonishingly detailed study of a
child-woman which has the effect of almost unbalancing the film since we learn
more about her nascent sexuality, her capacity for teasing and her basic
innocence than we do about what drives Humbert forward.

Iron's performance, carefully underplayed and striking as it is, virtually
exists in her shadow. "Gentlewomen of the jury," says Humbert at one point, "I
was not even her first lover."

The main problem with what is undoubtedly the best film the 56-year-old Lyne has
made is its length, which at present is two hours, 20 minutes. And somewhere
between Humbert's successful seduction of Lolita and his spectacular and
melodramatic murder of Quilty (Frank Langella), the man who makes Lolita
pregnant, the film loses part of its grip and emotional kick.

What it never loses is its sense of danger - of dealing with a taboo subject
with honesty and subjectivity.

Undoubtedly, after the furore over 'Crash', there will be those who want to ban
it. There will also be those who think it is an overlong bore. But this Lolita,
though flawed, is often superbly shot, very finely acted and so faithful to the
book that charges of exploitation cannot be justly sustained.

It opens in Italy and Germany next week, and in Britain in January. No one knows
what will happen in the States.
|* Dr. Jerry Goodenough *|
|* Philosophy Sector Tel: 01603-592095 *|
|* School of Economic & Social Studies Fax: 01603-250434 *|
|* University of East Anglia E: *|
|* Norwich NR4 7TJ *|