Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0004832, Tue, 29 Feb 2000 10:03:18 -0800

Re: Lolita/American Beauty (fwd)
I've talked to several other people who agree with me and you, Barbara,
that AB is a piece of junk. I found it very offensive and cynical. The
characters were trivial and idiotic. The feeble attempts to invoke Lolita
amounted to name-dropping, and the film's attempt to have it both ways
regarding the Spacey character's infatuation had none of the paradox,
daring, or complexity of Lolita. I thought Lyne's version of Lolita was
much more successful as a film, though of course it could never equal any
individual reader's experience of VN's novel.

--Sarah Herbold

At 9:17 AM -0800 2/28/0, Barbara Wyllie wrote:
>I'm sorry, but I'm sure that Jane and her friend are 18 - her friend, the AB
>(still can't remember her name), says she's 18 - and they're driving cars
>and smoking joints and doing other sorts of (relatively) grown-up things...
>that's right, like having sex! There is also a distinction to be considered
>between the maturity and sophistication of teenagers in the 1990s and the
>late 1940s.
>And I also have to say that the film left me feeling like I'd been
>manipulated and abused. The only moments of relief came from Spacey and
>Benning who are hilarious. As with a number of recent films, AB tries to
>address serious and disturbing issues, but does so in a superficial way, and
>it's only impact is a shock/sensational one, wrapped up in some very clever
>but sometimes cumbersome directorial devices. Adrian Lyne's Lolita had the
>same effect, I felt, but was more offensive because of its deeply
>chauvinistic sensibility, something that doesn't exist either in the novel,
>or even Kubrick's version.
>I realise I'm in a minority in thinking that AB is trash, but I can't
>believe that other people don't see it's utter vacuity...
>Barbara Wyllie

Dr. Sarah Herbold
Women's Studies Department
UC Berkeley
3226 Dwinelle Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720