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Lotus Eaters: Too Much of a Good Thing?

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I found Alexandra McGuinness's debut film Lotus Eaters disturbing. It is shot so beautifully, in an '80s soft black and white palette, with gorgeous close-ups of perfect young faces, as if torn from a fashion spread. So from the first frame, visual appetite is up, but very quickly dissipated by the backbiting, nastiness of this spoiled group of 20-somethings. They had me yearning for Eliza Doolittle. Who are these kids? Why aren't they looking for jobs? And how can I share some of their lifestyle?

Lotus Eaters follows a group of young Londoners as they struggle to find meaning in their lives, by drinking, drugging and partying at beautiful castles. It seems that everyone is connected to old money, so it's hard to feel too sympathetic for their plight. Instead of getting it all done and over with at Easter break in Florida or taking a gap year to Nepal, they run around in costumes, picking on each other and getting high much too long. Perhaps if they were witty, but mostly they are mean... to each other, and ultimately to themselves.

Two of the leads, however, are so charming and intelligent that I'm rethinking the movie. Benn Northover, from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 2, found a way to make Felix attractive, despite his confusion over whom to love. Northover is a thoughtful actor and filmmaker who considers independent filmmaker Jonas Mekas a mentor.

His co-star, delicate Antonia Campbell-Hughes suggested that these characters are incapable of behaving differently from their parents -- parents who have either over-indulged or simply disappeared. And her Alice, looking for someone to trust, puts her love in singer Charlie, (Johnny Flynn), pretty with giant addiction issues. Ms. Campbell-Hughes has an on-screen presence of innocence that belies her fierce intelligence. She has just played the Austrian kidnapping victim, Natascha Kampusch in 3096 and will soon direct her first film.