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.