Lotus Eaters, Beautifully Photographed and Maddeningly Shallow

About a third of the way through this frustrating 80-minute film, English musician Johnny Flynn, portraying a charismatic drug addict, sings an acoustic version of The Magnetic Fields song "Papa Was a Rodeo" that's so plaintive and moving that it stops the show, so to speak, and also, regrettably, underscores the show's hollowness. Directed by newcomer Alexandra McGuinness, this beautifully photographed (by Gareth Munden) black-and-white film tracks a group of London-based trust-fund twentysomethings as they meet for coffee, go to parties, puke, flirt, and talk, a lot, about how bored they are. When tragedy strikes, the group doesn't know how to deal, so they head to a country manor to dance, drink, and betray each other sexually. Lotus Eaters, which McGuinness co-wrote with Brendan Grant, is maddeningly shallow—maybe that's the point—but McGuinness does have talent. The party scenes feel organic and true, and knowing how to guide a movie audience through a crowded room is no small gift. As the daughter of U2 manager Paul McGuinness, the filmmaker probably knows a thing or two about privileged youth, but, for now at least, she appears more interested in making pretty pictures than revealing gritty truths.

Location Info


City Cinemas Village East Cinema

181-189 2nd Ave.
New York, NY 10012

Category: Movie Theaters

Region: Noho


Lotus Eaters
Directed by Alexandra McGuinness
Meneret Films
Opens April 5, Village East Cinema

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I saw this film when first out in 2011 and wrote this poem to describe what I thought the film was about.

Lotus Eaters by Natasha Ward-Davis

Youth unknowing, blindly taking all,

Giving, nor forgiving none

Blurting nonsensical words without truth or meaning

Playing to their ego's unconscious pleading

Body language betraying emotional leaking

Devouring mind's, heart's, souls, divine

Without understanding they step over every conceivable line

Searching for a place to lay life out, 

Endeavouring to make it unatainably sublime

Instead they commit emotional crime

Illicit substances, sex and heady pursuits

Obliterate feelings of inadequacies deep rooted

Inhibitions soothed open, decency looted

Yet guilt then oozes from every pore

Pills popped for the last time, yet their spells never broken

Addication stregthened more and more

Bathing, then drowning in booze, feelings unspoken

Peer group love absent, at a part - y they should leave

Cries of desperation seen through dead eyes

No-one can feel each other's painEach trying to flout competition

Conveniently thinking each other to blame

Friends I suppose, but they do not seem

Bitching and pinching each other's egos supreme

In mindless selfish efforts to be the coolest of the crop

They pretend to be buddies yet defect when defences drop

Life's empty place, of no respite

Johnny sweetly sings to the only love in his sad sorry life

Then died almost valiantly to give Alice life

Yet she suspends all development and shallows even more

Lost in a world of deluded shadows she causes all to fall.


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