Synopsis by Mark Deming
Adapted from the novel by Vladimir Nabokov (previously filmed by Stanley Kubrick in 1962), Lolita stars Jeremy Irons as Humbert Humbert, a college literature professor. In early adolescence, Humbert fell hopelessly and tragically in love with a girl his own age, and, as he grew into adulthood, he never lost his obsession with "nymphets," teenagers who walk a fine line between being a girl and a woman. While looking for a place to live after securing a new teaching position, he meets Charlotte Haze (Melanie Griffith), a pretentious and annoying woman who seems desperately lonely and is obviously attracted to Humbert. Humbert pays her little mind until he meets her 13-year-old daughter Lolita (Dominique Swain), the image of the girl that Humbert once loved. Humbert moves into the Haze home as a boarder and eventually marries Charlotte in order to be closer to Lolita. When Charlotte finds out about Humbert's attraction to her daughter, she flees the house in a rage, only to be killed in an auto accident. Without telling Lolita of her mother's fate, Humbert takes her on a cross-country auto trip, where their relationship begins to move beyond the traditional boundaries of stepfather and step-daughter. Lolita proved to be controversial in the United States due to its clear (if not explicit) depiction of sex between a middle-aged man and an underaged girl; no major studio was willing to release it in America, and it finally had its U.S. premiere on the Showtime cable network. This version, directed by Adrian Lyne, was publicized as being more faithful to Nabokov's book than Stanley Kubrick's adaptation (which was scripted by Nabokov himself); however, it manages to be closer to the letter of the novel without capturing its spirit and tone as well as Kubrick did.
professor, daughter, landlady, Lolita, obsession, teenagers, college