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Lolita

Year: 1997
Director: Adrian Lyne
Writer: Vladimir Nabokov
Cast: Jeremy Irons, Doninique Swain, Melanie Griffith, Frank Langella
Once again Jeremy Irons finds himself in a sex romp with a woman far too young for him.

Taking the landmark Russian novel (and Kubrick's original) and running with it, it tells the story of a writer who's never got over the death of his first love at 14 years old. As such, he's unnaturally fixated on 14 year old girls, especially the budding daughter of his landlady, for who he falls hard.

I've neither read the book or seen the Kubrick version, but it's obvious the themes being explored in the book are simply about the natural competition and need between parents and their children. Humbert's affair with a girl young enough to be his daughter (who in effect becomes so out of necessity to them both) is analogous to the struggle of a father to let go of his daughter, and of a girl to escape the control of her parents.

Humbert goes so far as to marry her mother Charlotte to be close to her, then can't bring himself to sleep with or respond to her for his desire for Dolores.

After Charlotte's death, Humbert can take Lolita away and live happily ever after with her, or so he thinks. At once she becomes his responsibility as well as his lifeblood; daughter, wife, hooker and enemy, and it's his trying to hold on to the innocence of his love for her in the face of the practicalities of trying to love a woman everyone assumes is his daughter that provide the drama and tension.

And all the while, they are pursued across America by high-class pimp Quilty (Langella) desperate to get his hands on her, which he ultimately does.

It gives you plenty to think about, and in matters that mean something to everyone. It would an interesting experience to read the book to see how Lyne (and Kubrick before him) reimagined or reinterpreted Nabakov's original vision.

Tender care is taken to express Swain as a pubescent girl cinematically, having her dancing around and acting silly as only young girls can. The same subtle touch is used to portray their budding desire for each other in slight touches and glances that you rarely see done effectively in movies.

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