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Review: 'Lotus Eaters' has style, lacks substance

Alexandra McGuinness' first feature focuses on the young, rich and bored. Gareth Munden's cinematography can't overcome a lack of a good story.

April 11, 2013|By Sheri Linden
  • A scene from "Lotus Eaters."
A scene from "Lotus Eaters." (Handout )

All dressed up with cool places to go, the pretty young things of "Lotus Eaters" are very rich and extravagantly bored. Alexandra McGuinness' first feature isn't quite as aimless as the millennial jet-setters it portrays, but it's at least as good-looking and stylish. And even though the handsome black-and-white lensing is no substitute for a compelling story, it helps, infusing the skin-deep sketches of emotional enervation with aesthetic energy — for a while.

The movie's London clique partake of the usual sex, drugs and clubbing, the bathtubs full of bubbly, and, of course, accouter their pet lemurs with jeweled collars. When they're not taking their movable feast of glamorous languor to Cap Ferrat, Glastonbury or Ireland, they brood in cafes or shoplift from boutiques.

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The gentlest member of the group is Alice (Antonia Campbell-Hughes), a model and aspiring actress. She goes on an audition that's the only involving scene in the movie. Campbell-Hughes' engaging combination of guardedness and transparency makes Alice a character worth wondering about, but almost no one she interacts with inspires a second thought. Alice still loves her fey ex (Johnny Flynn), who's trying to kick heroin, while Felix (Benn Northover) and Marlon (Alex Wyndham) separately pursue her, and their older friend, the flinty Orna (Cynthia Fortune Ryan), manipulates everyone.

Gareth Munden's cinematography can hold things together only to a point; it grows increasingly hard to shake the sense of high-end advertising, stylized and affected. McGuinness has a commendable grasp of visual textures and rhythms. It will be interesting to see what she does with a stronger story to tell. Here, reaching for dramatic effect, she comes up empty.

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"Lotus Eaters." No MPAA rating. 1 hour, 18 minutes. At Arena Cinema, Hollywood.

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