Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Lotus Eaters: The Beautiful and the Debauched
a future generation ever really wanted to create their own unique identity they
would study hard, eagerly join the work force, and compulsively save. Of course, hedonism is more fun, especially
when there is a hipster filmmaker around to pretend you invented the dissolute
lifestyle. True to the Bret Easton Ellis
tradition, Alexandra McGuinness casts a glossy eye on the London smart set in Lotus Eaters (trailer here), which opens
tomorrow in New York.
for Alice, nobody in her circle of frienemies has ever held a proper job. She happens to be a model. She would like to transition into an acting
career, but that looks unlikely for reasons of talent (or lack thereof). Everyone else spends all their time doing
drugs, having sex, and playing mind games with each other. This especially includes her not-so reformed heroin-addict
on-again-off-again boyfriend, Charlie.
She would like to make it work with him, but he seems too
self-destructive even by her friends’ standards. As a result, she starts responding to the
duller but wealthier Felix. His ex is
none too pleased, whereas master manipulator Orna seems to enjoy the chaos.
critics seem to agree on how striking Gareth Munden’s Herb Ritts-inspired
black-and-white cinematography is, which is all well and good. As a screen drama though, Lotus is pretty much a mess. The characters are dull, the situations
predictable, and the tone is ridiculously self-important. At least McGuinness is not afraid to cut lose. Frankly, by the third act, Lotus seems be deliberately parodying
itself and other pretentious art films, concluding with an outrageously
over-the-top finale that will either cause your jaw to drop or your sides to ache. That might not be what McGuinness was going
for exactly, but at least it makes the film distinctive.
Alice, the waifish Antonia Campbell-Hughes tends to blend into the white
backgrounds unobtrusively. Likewise, the
Byronic bad boy thing folksinger Johnny Flynn does as Charlie gets old quickly. Strangely, a lot of the flavor comes from the
supporting cast. While some are rather
clunky, Cynthia Fortune Ryan is an intriguing presence as Orna while Jay Choi
adds some mischievous flair as Lulu.
Oddly enough, Lotus Eaters is really quite a retro viewing experience. It is all about its surface sheen and neo-new
wave soundtrack. Had it come out in the
1980’s it would have been a sensation, but three decades or so later just feels
like empty sound and spectacle. Recommended
for fans of Mommie Dearest and
similarly overwrought cult oddities, Lotus
Eaters opens tomorrow (4/5) in New York at the Village East.
Labels: British Cinema