NABOKV-L post 0003242, Wed, 29 Jul 1998 10:20:10 -0700

Re: Lolita film review (fwd)
From: Thomas Seifrid <>

Having just returned from seeing the last, I think, big screen showing of
*Lolita* in LA before its Showtime debut (this just at a humble movie
theater--with parking provided at the Flynt--as in Larry--Building down the
street) I thought I might add, if any one has the patience for it, one or
two remarks to the existing mountain of commentary on this film.

It certainly is not a bad film, if not a great one. The script sticks so
doggedly to the novel that in many places you know exactly how the scene
will unfold. The film also has a way of stumbling right into the middle of
scenes from the Kubrick version, daring that you compare, and then not
doing much either way--neither blowing it nor upstaging its predecessor.
Jeremy Irons is very good, even when he acts like John Cleese (as Basil
Fawlty, bowing and scraping and saying "Sorry! Sorry!" to leave the
hospital after Lo has been stolen from him). Dominique Swain is
unbelievably wooden (as someone else has already noted) in too many places,
especially the last scene in Coalmont. Nor did I find the relationship as
a whole convincing. DS is so good at being a vulgar teenager that it's
impossible to imagine desiring her; nor is it easy to believe that the love
this HH (film version) felt for this Annabel was so overwhelming as to
generate the metaphysical tragedy of Humbert's (book version) love for Lo.
But what continues to strike me about film versions of this novel is how
poorly they reproduce Nabokov's own uncannily apt representations of the
American countryside. It's all there, at least physically, meticulously
reproduced, as if Merchant and Ivory had got tired with Victoriana and
decided to move up into the 20th century. But somehow the poignant
combination of garishness, absurdity, and beauty is completely lost.

Tom Seifrid