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.
Get the Film Club Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.