Alexandra McGuiness has made her debut film with the dazzlingly stylish but emotionally vapid Lotus Eaters. The black and white vérité cinematography is a heavy-handed effort to invoke the nouvelle vague of 1960s Godard – and the doe-eyed innocence of lead actress Antonia Campbell-Hughes is vaguely reminiscent of Anna Karina – but the similarities serve only to highlight the utter lack of content in the film and the remarkable mistiming of the making of this feature.
Normally, I would leave out a discussion of the global economy when discussing a trifling film. But it’s hard to imagine a worse time to make a movie about a bunch of rich kids fannying about in a constant daze of drugs and drink, travelling across parties, festivals, and France, spending their parents’ money (and, in one baffling scene, bathing in vodka). I spent a distressing amount of time watching this in the theater with my arms crossed, a look of skepticism and some disgust on my face. And that can’t have been the McGuiness’ intention.
None of the characters make any impression. Not Alice, the failed actress, Charlie, the musician, and…I forget the rest of their names. In between the debauchery, the characters mouth pseudo-philosophy – there’s a reason one tends to forget earnest, late-night party conversation – it’s absolute rubbish. Watching it re-created so faithfully in a movie theater is just short of torture. At 78 minutes, you’d think that’d at least be quick torture, but it feels like I’ve spent a week with these wastrels, and I want out.
I suppose the highlight of the film comes when one of the characters plays an acoustic cover of “Papa Was a Rodeo,” but to me, it only highlights the failings in the film’s writing. Stephin Merritt tells a more interesting story, more compellingly, in the 3 minutes of that song than this film manages in its entire running time.
Maybe time will be kind and this will seem a timeless document of a certain class of people in a certain place at a certain time. But I think it’s rubbish.