Lotus Eaters breed apathy

Alexandra McGuinness’ first feature film Lotus Eaters fails to impress … on many levels.

Antonia Campbell-Hughes and Johnny Flynn in Lotus Eaters

I didn’t like this movie. I’ll not beat around the bush. I really, really didn’t like this movie. It has some good qualities, but we’ll worry about those later.

To begin with, after viewing the trailer I was expecting something set in the 60s, in London, with a sweet, sweet soundtrack. Maybe I’m lacking in deductive skills — but to me, the film screamed different era, not present day London. It took me until a Come Dine With Me reference to really hammer it in, and then I just felt funny. The tag line of the film actually makes use of the overly abused “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll,” which again doesn’t say contemporary to me.

Throughout the film we follow model/struggling actress Alice (Antonia Campbell-Hughes), her ex/heroin addict pal Charlie (Johnny Flynn) and their incestuous group of friends as they pretty much piss away their lives. Honestly, I think that sentence covers it. Trying to ignore the fact that several of these actors produce pretty awful attempts at an English accent, none of them are likeable. I don’t care about a single bloody person in this entire film. When something awful happens there is no tug at heartstrings or shock — just a sense of “hmm, well, that happened.” Campbell-Hughes as Alice does make a slight impression but her general meekness and fragility grates.

Sofia Coppola must be one of director Allexandra McGuinness’ favourites, as the film several times reminded me of how agitated I was after viewing Somewhere. I will admit that Coppola’s attempt to make you feel sorry for the beautiful, rich and privileged youth is a little more successful — but I don’t quite understand why I continue to see this type of film. These characters aren’t relatable, they’re not even engaging, so their trials and struggles, mostly self-imposed, just annoy me. People with every opportunity to improve their situation who lack the motivation to do so, make me cranky. I’m cranky right now.

But here’s the trouble, the film is beautiful. It is so bloody pretty. It feels more like an artsy music video that went on too long, not so much an actual film. The soundtrack lends to this idea as well as it includes some incredible London groups: Stand Up Against Heart Crime, Little Death and O. Children. (Not to mention the inclusion of some tunes by some of my Swedish faves First Aid Kit and Fever Ray.)

It’s a pretty film, not a good film. It has elements that could have made it amazing and memorable, but it falls apart because you’ve been given no reason to care. If you’re into fancy music videos maybe you’ll dig this bad boy, but that just wasn’t enough for me. ■

Lotus Eaters opens Friday, May 24 at Cinéma du Parc (3575 Parc)

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