Irish helmer Alexandra McGuinness’ debut “Lotus Eaters” wants desperately to be a portrait of the beautiful and the damned, with its tale of West London rich kids doing drugs and shagging each other, but it’s more like a spectacle of the spoiled and annoying. Pic has some redeeming features, like its glossy, fashion-shoot-inspired black-and-white look, and a clutch of respectable perfs among some very poor ones from the toothsome young cast, but the script is a mess, the characters barely sympathetic. Only niche auds are likely to get high on this.Bony clotheshorse Alice (Antonia Campbell Hughes, pretty good) longs to transition from model to actress, but is hobbled by a staggering lack of talent, revealed in a droll audition scene. She spends much of her time hanging out with her rich, super stylish friends like sassy Saskia (Daisy Lewis), flaky Lulu (Jay Choi) and needy Suzi (Amber Anderson) and their assorted boyfriends, and has an on-off relationship with junkie Charlie (Johnny Flynn, another standout, along with Lewis). Action fluctuates between ultimately monotonous semi-improvised scenes of the kids partying hard and hoary melodrama that reaches a preposterous climax.
A McGuinnesslee, Fastnet Films presentation with the participation of the Irish Film Board. Produced by Mark Lee. Co-producers, Morgan Bushe, Macdara Kelleher, Kyle Blanshard. Directed by Alexandra McGuinness. Screenplay, McGuinness, Brendan Grant.
Camera (B&W, Super 16-to-35mm, widescreen), Gareth Munden; editor, Bert Hunger, Emer Reynolds; music, Birger Clausen; production designer, Richard Hudson; art director, Noam Piper; costume designer, Ruth Higginbotham. Reviewed at London Film Festival (New British Cinema) Oct. 19, 2011 . Running time: 78 MIN.
Antonia Campbell Hughes, Benn Northover, Cynthia Fortune Ryan, Johnny Flynn, Amber Anderson, Liam Browne, Daisy Lewis, Alex Wyndham, Gina Bramhill, Jay Choi, Katrena Rochell.