by Chris McKittrick
The Lotus Eaters of Homer’s Odyssey spent their days indulging in food that made them ignore all of their wants and needs in order to pursue ultimate leisure. The aptly-titled film Lotus Eaters, directed and co-written by Alexandra McGuinness (Paris Noir), follows the modern equivalent of that mythological race, a group of young London models, actors, and rock stars whose society lives are filled with drug and booze fueled parties, yet all seem to suffer from the first-world problem of being profoundly bored with their lifestyle.
Lotus Eaters has an ensemble cast, but it primarily focuses on Alice (Antonia Campbell-Hughes), a model-turned-actress (though not a very good actress) who is dating Charlie (musician Johnny Flynn), a drug addict. They run in the same circle with Felix (Benn Northover), a rock musician whose career is taking off. In turn, Felix is involved with the manipulative, slightly-older Orna (Cynthia Fortune Ryan), who intertwines her life with Alice’s with unclear motives. The film explores how this group and their other friends hide behind their lives of sex, drugs, and rock and roll to prevent themselves from having to deal with their actual feelings.
The film explores the self-destruction caused by luxurious idleness, yet in many ways Lotus Eaters as a whole has just as little substance as its characters. On one hand, the actors pull off their characters really well, they look great in their stylish clothes, and the gorgeous black and white cinematography lends a timeless quality to the film, which could easily have been set in London in the 60s or 70s (though after a while it seems like you’re watching a 78 minute long Calvin Klein commercial with all these good-looking people). However, it’s really only mildly amusing watching these superficial characters interact in their drunken and drugged stupors. In that sense, it’s a less clever version of the “young people with access with too much money” theme Whit Stillman did in Metropolitan back in 1990.
That doesn’t mean audiences aren’t due another film touching on that theme, but Lotus Eaters is simply less interesting than it could be considering how strong these characters are. The “fly on the wall” storytelling style of Lotus Eaters doesn’t seem to be the best way to explore these personalities, and I believe that McGuinness and co-writer Brendan Grant could have said so much more with these characters. As a result, the 78 minutes tend to drag because there isn’t much story to push the audience along, and that’s a bad sign for such a short film.
RATING: Though Lotus Eaters makes beautiful people doing nothing interesting, there is probably a lot more that could have been done with these characters (4/10).
Lotus Eaters opens in New York on April 5th and Los Angeles on April 12th. It will also be available on VOD on April 12th.