Title: Lotus Eaters
Director: Alexandra McGuinness
Screenwriter: Alexandra McGuinness, Brendan Grant
Cast: Antonia Campbell, Johnny Flynn, Benn Northover, Liam Browne, Amber Anderson, Cynthia Fortune Ryan
Screened at: Review 2, NYC, 3/27/13
Opens: April 5, 2013
A recent crop of self-help, how-to-be-happy books—the kind that tell us that once you’re making $75,000 a year, each additional increment will not make you happier—also state that people in their seventies are the happiest while those in their twenties are not. This turns common sense on its head, but once you see Alexandra McGuinness’s “Lotus Eaters,” you’d be inclined to agree with current research. The rich men and women in their mid-twenties go through their privileged lives addled by drugs and without purpose. You may get so depressed looking at their life-styles that you’ll give up all your money and move to an ashram or monastery. “Lotus Eaters” is “La Dolce Vita” without the pizazz or artistry or flourishes that made Fellini’s tale of a philandering paparazzo’s week in Rome so gripping. The best thing that could be said about the lazily-directed, minimally structured drama “Lotus Eaters” is its seventy-eight minutes’ length.
The title comes from the Greek myth about people who eat narcotic flowers and sleep apathetically, not unlike the wealthy mid-twenties group in London who party party party. Having no need to work and no reason to think that labor might be the solution to their boredom, they drug themselves, they drink, they have sex—though the film lacks enough of that last item to give it some life. The central couple, Charlie (Johnny Flynn), who is soon to drop from heroin, and his cherubic-looking girlfriend Alice (Antonia Campbell-Hughes), create attention mostly because at least one of the guys, Felix (Benn Northover) would like to take Charlie’s place (not dropping but linking up with Alice). Orna (Cynthia Fortune Ryan) looks a decade older than anyone else in the group, seemingly determined to use her authority to manipulate the members.
Director Alexandra McGuinness, whose only previous full-length film, “Paris Noir” is about a young man from the wrong end of the tracks who falls under the spell of a bourgeois woman, has her cinematographer Gareth Munden photograph the scenes in black and white. Maybe this symbolizes the colorless, i.e. rudderless lives of the subject; maybe it’s an attempt to be pretentious like Terrence Malick. There is some hope for the soundtrack, however, in fact the best scene in the movie features Charlie in a rendition of a folk song that might take those in the audience of a certain age back to the glorious sixties and seventies when Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger and the Weavers captivated the U.S.
Unrated. 78 minutes © 2013 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Story – C
Acting – C
Technical – C+
Overall – C