Dir: Adrian Lyne
Star: Jeremy Irons, Dominique Swain, Frank Langella, Melanie Griffith
Right from the start, it’s clear that this is going to be a downbeat tragedy, if you hadn’t already guessed it from the presence of Irons, a man whose entire career seems to revolve around doomed love. This seems much truer to the book than Kubrick’s version, and benefits from good performances across the board: not just Irons, but Swain as Lolita, and Langella is a memorably creepy Quilty. The main problem is that because it’s so obvious where this is going, you will find yourself drumming your fingers as the story slowly unfolds.
It probably does count as a paedophile’s wet dream (Lolita plays tennis! Lolita nibbles on a banana!), but does this mean it should be banned? ‘Course not. Morally, this is as straight-edged as they come; those who sin, die. Indeed, so do many of those who don’t sin; the mortality rate among characters approaches that of John Woo’s HK films. The end result is worthy, but pretty damn cheerless.