Review of Lolita

Lolita (1962)
5/10
An unbiased review of the worst Kubrick film I've seen
17 May 2008
Considering how brilliant 2001: A Space Odyssey and Barry Lyndon were, it's kind of hard to imagine Stanley Kubrick making a bad film. Unfortunately, throughout his prolific career, he did make a couple of clunkers, and Lolita is definitely one of them.

The comedy was misplaced and unfunny, the creepiness was corny and uncreepy, and the overall mood was as dry as sandpaper. The deepest, and the most artistic, scene in the entire film was the introduction. Aside from that, barely anything was impressive or accessible enough to draw me in. For most of the 2 1/2 hours, I watched each scene lumber by, and barely cared for what I was seeing.

Why was Clare Quilty such a front and center character? Was it because Peter Sellers agreed to play the part, and they wanted to see as much of him as possible? Is that why they chose to over-develop his character, give him more lines than anyone, have him play two characters, and stray completely from the poetic chords that made the book so moving? And why was Humbert Humbert's background so under-explained? If you had never read the book, the deeper reasons behind his sickness, and everything else, would be mostly unknown.

The story and the character development jumped about with hardly any subtly. For example: Humbert, out of the clear blue, begins to rant about his controlling wife, and a few moments later, he contemplates on ways to kill her with a gun. There were no hints about him having murderous tendencies within the story's chronology, but all of a sudden he does? And there is no sexual tension or chemistry between Humbert and Lolita; you can barely tell that they have a relationship at all. Maybe the 1960s censors are to blame for this. Nevertheless, the relationship still feels very shallow, unbelievable, and unjustified. Why would a beautiful young girl want to have sex with a man who was as old and as ugly as James Mason? This is never explained.

As a longtime Kubrick fan, I'm not afraid to say that this film downright sucked. I only give it a 5 out of 10 because it wasn't entirely awful. There were moments when Kubrick's trademark directing and cinematography sparkled through, but, overall, I was extremely disappointed.
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