Top critical review
11 people found this helpful
Some good performances but ultimately flawed
on 11 November 2007
The subject matter of Lolita naturally poses some problems for a director, but this adaptation has ultimately gone down as a victory for the censors. The original novel was almost entirely focused on the character of Humbert Humbert, his flamboyant obsession with a young girl and the increasingly ridiculous lengths he goes to in an effort to keep the object of his affections. The genius in Humbert's character was that despite the hopelessly immoral nature of his actions, the reader could always sympathise with the position he found himself in.
In the film this dimension is ultimately lost. James Mason makes an admirable attempt to play Humbert and Shelley Winters is perfect as the naive Charlotte, but divorced of its finest material the tale becomes a rather dry affair and were it not for the odd suggestive phrase now and then, you would be forgiven for thinking that Humbert was simply an overly conservative father figure. Worthy of mention is Peter Sellers who plays an amusing cameo-esque role, but it speaks volumes when the humour which was such a vital part of the novel is provided by a bit-part character (as Quilty was in the novel) and some rather absurd slapstick elements including a decidedly galling scene involving a fold out bed that could have come straight from Charlie Chaplin.
Overall, there are some good performances on display, but the film neither captures the genius of the novel nor does it provide any other motivation for the viewer to become engrossed in the plot.