Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0002465, Mon, 13 Oct 1997 09:42:04 -0700

Re: Schiff/Lyne LOLITA: review excerpts
The current *Variety* reports the following under the title "'Lolita'
satisfies Italy."

"Italian audiences succumbed to "Lolita's" charms...In its world preem,
"Lolita," Adrian Lyne's take on the relationship between a middle-aged man
and a teenage girl, seduced a lusty $1.2 million in five days on 190 sceens
in Italy. Huge media coverage was sparked by the visits of the director,
thesps Jeremy Irons and Dominique Swain, and Dmitri Nabokov (whose father,
Vladimir, wrote the novel); and by enraged community groups.

Without actually seeing the film, the National Parents' Association and an
organization that combats child abuse formally lodged protests against
distrib Medusa and Lyne, accusing them of "inciting pedophilia."

The critics varied from hostile to rave, one hailing Swain's acting as
better than Sue Lyon's in Stanley Kubrick's version."

Also, from a review by Lee Marshall in the October 3, 1997 issue of
*Screen International*, a British trade publication roughly equivalent to

"The U.S. distributors who have refused to touch this story of illicit
paternal passion have a lot to answer for. The film manages to be at once
glossily watchable, psychologically complex, and morally mature--not
something we always associate with Adrian Lyne's oeuvre.

Lolita is his best yet--by quite a wide margin--and it even gives Stanley
Kubrick's 1962 version a run for its money, largely thanks to screenwriter
Stephen Schiff's intelligently faithful adaptation of Nabokov's novel, plus
compelling performances by Jeremy Irons and, in particular, newcomer
Dominique Swain as Lolita. US prospects are zero at present, but the film
should do well in Europe, although its length may be a drawback.

In Lyne's Lolita, the story of the relationship between university
professor Humbert Humbert and his 12-year-old stepdaughter is foregrounded
while the sinister Quilty (a show-stealing Peter Sellers in Kubrick's
version, here a nicely camped-up Frank Langella) takes a back seat. Here,
Lolita is an entirely credible character, a gawky, teasing seductress on
one level and a confused little girl on another, who leafs through comics
while making love to daddy. Sex scenes are infrequent (and all feature a
19-year-old stand-in), but the whole film is charged with a tortured
eroticism that retains the disturbing passion of Nabokov's book, but
refuses to take refuge in irony to the same extent.

The decision to retain a late 1940s period setting was a sound one:
McCarthyite social mores and Hopperesque motelscapes (the work of designer
Jon Hutman and DP Howard Atherton) serve to isolate and offset the
intensity of the central story. A kitsch-horror Quilty murder scene will
strike a false note for some, but this powerful film regains its balance at
the end. If this goes direct to video in the US, it could prove to be an
interesting market test case."