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Is It Any Good? ‘Lolita’ (1997)

How does it compare?

Lolita is a tragedy… an incredibly disturbing tale of tragic events. Make no mistake, this is no romance, this is a despicable crime story. Now, I must confess that I have not read the novel nor have I seen the 1962 Kubrick classic, so I’ll be judging this film on it’s own without comparison.

That being said, this is a great film. This is an intriguing yet extremely disturbing crime tale that’s both well written and expertly performed by this ultra talented cast. I only have good things to say about this film, it exceeded my expectations and elicited strong emotion and fury from me.

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This script does several incredible things that I must commend. First of all, it makes it extraordinarily clear that this is not a pedophilic romance. As the film goes on, it’s clear that Humbert is a disturbed pedophile and as expected from such a person, he cares about nothing other than his obsession with this young teen girl. A romance must be two individuals in love and sharing a relationship, this is not that. This is an adult man with a sick abusive obsession with his stepdaughter.

The script is extremely smart in giving us scenes that depict the extremely abusive harmful situation that Lolita is in with Humbert. Lolita is your average young teen, she’s overly energetic and full of youth and to her, sex with Humbert is simply a game. It was never “love” from her point of view; how could it be? It’s absolutely heartbreaking and enraging to watch this film because you see exactly what this sick man does to this girl willingly.

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Jeremy Irons, Domonique Swain, and Melanie Griffith in Lolita

It was also very smart to tell this story from Humbert’s point of view so we as the audience can see inside this man’s sick head. Having this told to us from him makes everything that much more impactful and, to be honest, chilling. There’s so much rich material packed into this script and that makes it all that much better. Not only is the disturbing story told well but the characters are all given so much depth.

These characters are not one dimensional in the slightest, we see them as who they really are: A sick pervert taking advantage of a girl and telling himself it’s love, a young girl trying to navigate this horrible ordeal she finds herself in, and an unaware mother who falls for this pervert. It was simple to see this was a well made film because of the genuine anger and heartbreak that it elicited from me. My heart broke for Lolita and for her mother played by Melanie Griffith. So the script is a home run, how about the acting?

This cast is full of talent. Jeremy Irons plays Humbert perfectly. Irons brings passion and subtle depravity to this lead role and he’s just a perfect fit. Melanie Griffith, while only a supporting character, makes great use of her time and delivers an incredible performance as Lolita’s mother Charlotte. There is one scene in particular between her and Irons where she demonstrates why she’s such a great actress. That is a great scene and Griffith’s character said exactly what I was feeling.

And of course Domonique Swain, who plays Lolita, is a marvel. Swain played Lolita with such skill, she was able to show innocence and bluntness. There’s an impactful scene at the end between her and Irons where she blew me away with her cold blunt delivery of her lines. It was so crucial that she deliver those ending lines that way to show Humbert how crazy and twisted he is… it showed his perception of their relationship which is sick and disturbing vs hers which was clear and centered.

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Jeremy Irons and Domonique Swain in Lolita

Frank Langella must be mentioned too, his performance is so great and his character adds to the overall impact of this story. Langella’s character is even more disturbed and sick than Humbert and we see that clearly towards the end. The scene between Irons and Langella is performed so well… both the actors and the effects/makeup people deserve so much applause.

What occurs is graphic and I’m glad it is because it fits the tone and disturbing nature of these two men and that entire scene. The ending is done well too – it serves up justice in a powerful way, which I had been waiting for. A story as sick as this must serve up justice.

Lolita is an excellent film that tells us a disturbing crime story through a powerful script and exceptional performances. Highly recommended!

Is It Any Good? ‘Lolita’ (1997)
Lolita (1997)
Lolita (1997) is an exceptional film becuase of it's well written script and abundantly talented cast.
Reader Rating0 Votes
Excellent script that gives the charcaters depth and portrays this distrubing crime accurately
Jeremy Irons
Domonique Shaw
Melanie Griffith
Frank Langella
Impactful ending
There is something told in the ending credits I didn't like regarding Lolita

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