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10 Best Movies About Lolita Complex of All Time

September 29, 2017
8 min read

If you’re familiar with the story of Lolita, originally written in 1955 by Vladimir Nabokov , you can probably guess what the “Lolita complex” is all about. Also known as “Lolicon”, it is defined as the attraction to underaged or prepubescent girls, generally by older adult men. This controversial topic has been subject to many films over the century, each giving its own twist to this delicate matter, often seen as disturbingly wrong and immoral. Through different perspectives and limiting the characters to disparate levels, we have been given various plot genres that will either makes us love them or hate them.

However, although a sensitive subject that most people might strongly disagree with, movies still have the ability to bring us beyond the obvious. Through excellent performances, stunning visuals and emotional plots, these movies about Lolita complex might take us further into a different understanding of the issue than we would at first sight. You can watch these movies like Lolita on Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime.

10. Beau Père (1981)

Similar to the concept of “Lolita”, this movie, anglicised to “Stepfather”, brings the audience into the development of a controversial relationship between a 30-year-old man and his stepdaughter of 14 years of age, after her mother dies in a car crash. Director Bertrand Blier managed to handle this contentious topic with purity, subtleness and grace. Despite being taboo, the unison of great and well-developed performances by Patrick Dewaere and Ariel Best (in her first ever role)  and the delicate dialogue and pacing, brings Blier’s sensitive and elegant vision to an excellent visual and narrative achievement.

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9. Circle of Two (1981)

This Canadian drama stretches out the age difference further than any other films on this list. This time, a tender 16-year-old girl who writes poems, falls in love and commences an innocent yet quite emotional relationship with an older painter, at the age of 60. It is a long and realistic portrayal of such an unsure and doubtful situation, yet gives us a good insight into each character, making them very likeable and truthful. With Richard Burton taking on the role of the painter and Tatum O’Neal the one of teenage Sarah Norton, this dramatic story takes on the controversial “Lolita Complex” and brings it into an every-day type of environment, where things might not even seem that difficult to accept when love is at the core of the characters’ actions.

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8. Albatross (2011)

This British drama, which was exclusively shot on the Isle of Man, narrates the story of Emelia (Jessica Brown Findlay), a rebellious teenager aspiring to become a writer, who becomes acquainted with a family of four, who’s same-aged daughter Beth she quickly befriends. However, Beth is not the only one she gets close to. Emelia soon finds herself having an affair with much older family father Jonathan, which will naturally bring complications into the relationship between all of these characters.

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7. Palo Alto (2013)

This was Gia Coppola’s (granddaughter of Francis Ford Coppola) feature film debut that brilliantly stars amongst others Emma Roberts and James Franco. In the midst of the adolescent life and endeavours of a young group of teenagers, April (Roberts) and her soccer coach Mr. B (Franco) become involved in a more intimate relationship than the usual student-teacher correlating approach should be. A greatly constructed and drifting storyline, with well-defined characters seen from a dreamy and reckless world created by a beautifully stylised cinematography, that achieves an open retrospective into these varied souls of Palo Alto.

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6. Manhattan (1979)

Woody Allen and his signature glasses can be seen once more in one of his movies, a black and white romantic comedy set in Manhattan, as the title transparently indicates. It is said to have been based on a romantic relationship he had in the past with 17-year-old Stacey Nelkin, being more than twice her age at the time. In this movie we follow Isaac’s (Allen) life through a perspective looking upon human relationships, from affairs and ex-wives to friends and girlfriends. This 42-year-old main character just quit his job and is dating Tracy, a beautiful 17-year-old student. Although this isn’t the most important aspect of the film, as Isaac follows falling in love with his friend’s mistress, leaving the young student behind, he nevertheless ends up trying to come back to her in the end, without success. A wide success that left this movie as Allen’s second biggest box office hit in the history of his filmography.

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5. Notes On A Scandal (2006)

This crazy psychological thriller spins around, bounces up and down and erupts with furious power before deservedly landing in numerous festival nominations, taking home quite a few awards. Starring Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett as the front faces of this dramatic narrative, it contains a brilliantly dark and potent plot that is intelligently handled by a structured combination of visuals and sounds. Through the diary writings of Barbara Covett, a teacher close to retirement, we are told the story of Sheba, the new art teacher, and her sexual involvement with a 15 year-old student that will bring nothing but tumultuous complications. Most of all, if not for it’s whole, watch it for the terrific performances of Dench and Blanchett.

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4. Great Balls of Fire! (1989)

Here’s an outstanding biographical film depicting the life of rock and roll star Jerry Lee Lewis, with Dennis Quaid putting himself through a masterful performance in the shoes of this historical music icon of the 1950’s.  In the midst of his wild and electrical career, it is his marriage to his 13-year-old cousin that introduces the “Lolita Complex” and highly controversial occurrence that led to his nearly extinction from the musical scene. Known for his unquestionable musical talent and extroverted creativity, the darker and arrogant sides of his personality, together with his alcoholism are also aspects shown in this movie, giving it a broad and varied insight into the life and mind of this piano master.

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3. American Beauty (1999)

Sam Mende’s classic of the classics bases itself on the mid-life crisis of 42 years of age advertising executive Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) and the exploration of the feelings, developments and actions of the characters around him that will eventually lead the story to its final and glorious end. Angela Hayes (Mena Suvari) is the Lolita of this story, with her subtle yet in the end innocent flirtation with best friend Jane’s father, Lester. This last one, clearly shows his desire and attraction towards the young teenager, famously through his sexual fantasies and the iconic dance scene with the red petals coming out of Angela’s opening sporty bomber jacket. This emblematic and controversial character and plot trait does not suggest disgust and immorality, on the contrary, it evokes perfectly the mental state of the character and his attempt at rejuvenating his enclosed and vanishing social life and individual position and state of satisfaction. Immersed in a much deeper examination of life, beauty, repression and other thoughts, here’s a fairly interesting “Lolita Complex” to watch and re-watch.

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2. Lolita (1962)

“How did they ever make a movie about Lolita?” says the movie poster. I don’t think there’s anything Stanley Kubrick wouldn’t do if he felt it right to be created. That’s exactly what happened with this 1962 release of the famous story of “Lolita”, starring James Mason and Sue Lyon as the two contentious “lovers”. It focuses mostly on the obsession towards the pretty and young 14 year-old flirtatious teenager, who Humber Humbert is passionately unable to distance himself from. Although it omits much of the provocation the book contains, it was still seen as a very controversial film, due to the subject in general being taboo and immoral to the eyes of the public. However it was a total commercial success and has since then marked its importance in the history of cinema.

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1. The Reader (2008)

Based on 1995 German novel written by Bernhard Schlink, this award-winning work directed by Stephen Daldry has as main focus, once more, the controversial phenomena considered to be named as the “Lolita Complex”. However, the usual idea that the adult is male is in this story reversed into Hanna (Kate Winslet) being the 36 year-old tram conductor engaging into a peculiar sexual relationship with Michael (David Kross), a 15 year old health-fragile yet curious boy. The storyline jumps from the character’s past to future, with the older version of Michael played by Ralph Fiennes, revealing darker secrets and heartbreaking clashes as the plot progresses. Polished to a quite remarkable level of excellence, what is most impressive is the main characters’ performances, which truly embellish the two-sided perspectives this story offers to reflect on.

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