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The Lotus Eaters is a Canadian drama film, released in 1993. Written by Peggy Thompson and directed by Paul Shapiro. The film stars R. H. Thomson and Sheila McCarthy as Hal and Diana Kingswood, a married couple living on Galiano Island in British Columbia in the 1960s, with their two daughters, Cleo (Tara Frederick) and Zoe (Aloka McLean).

The Lotus Eaters
Directed byPaul Shapiro
Written byPeggy Thompson
Release date
  • 12 September 1993 (1993-09-12) (TIFF)
Running time
101 minutes


The story is told mostly through the eyes of Zoe, the younger Kingswood daughter. The Kingswoods seem to live a happy life, though teenage Cloe is frustrated with an inability to do things, like travel to Vancouver to see the Beatles. A catalyst for change for their somewhat stagnant lives arrives in the form of Anne-Marie (Michèle-Barbara Pelletier), Zoe's new teacher at the school where Hal Kingswood is principal.

Anne-Marie arrives late on her first day of work with all of her belongings packed into her Volkswagen bus and takes up residence in a local cottage. The new teacher's progressive ideas shake up the little school, much to the irritation of Hal the staid and stodgy principal.

Zoe (and most of her class) are immediately delighted with the lovely and vivacious young Anne-Marie who teaches them through song and art. One evening, Anne-Marie invites Zoe over to her little cottage. As Anne-Marie bathes in her wood-fired, outdoor bathtub, she gives Zoe a book of spells, which is ostensibly the mechanism through which change comes to the sleepy little island. Change is relatively mild at first - Cloe gets her first boyfriend, Dwayne Spittle, and Zoe learns how to make the wind gust.

Real change comes to Galiano Island when Hal discovers (thanks to Zoe) that his long dead father hasn't been dead for decades, as previously presumed, and only recently died (his ashes were shipped to Hal's mother). Hal's father abandoned Hal and his mother, Flora (Frances Hyland), when Hal was a child. Hal is rocked by the revelation of his father's abandonment, the fact that his father was alive, and his mother's lies. The combination of the shock of Hal's father's death and Hal's anger leads Flora to suffer a stroke.

Hal is in a tailspin. When he chances upon Anne-Marie crying in her bus, he takes a moment to learn more about her, discovering that she abandoned her fiance at the altar and that her mother calls her every morning to remind her that she is a disappointment. As Anne-Marie talks of wanting to sail away to Mexico, Hal joins in and the two of them share a kiss, which scares both of them.

As fall sets in, Hal gets closer and closer to Anne-Marie while Cloe gets closer and closer to her new boyfriend, Dwayne. After Halloween, Zoe and her friend, Jo, see Hal's car parked in front of Anne-Marie's cottage and decide to take a closer peek. They discover the two lovers kissing passionately and quietly sneak away. Zoe attempts to curse her teacher with limited success. In the meantime, Cloe and Dwayne break the news to Cloe's parents that Cloe is pregnant and they are not getting married, leaving Hal and Diana reeling.

When Diana Kingswood discovers that Anne-Marie has no plans for Christmas, she immediately insists she have Christmas dinner with them. It's all too much for Zoe and she bolts from the dinner table. When Hal follows her up to her room, Zoe confronts him about his affair with Anne-Marie. Soon, everyone at the table knows. Diana kicks out Hal and burns his boat to the ground.

Unexpectedly, Hal's mother, Flora, passes away. Diana and Hal embrace at the funeral. Anne-Marie is confronted by her students about her affair with Hal and soon resigns. Anne-Marie leaves town and is replaced by a young male teacher.


The film was originally slated to be directed by Sandy Wilson,[1] but Shapiro stepped in after Wilson dropped the project in favour of Harmony Cats.[1] It was the only theatrical feature film released by Shapiro, who is primarily known as a television director.


As of 2018 the film has begun streaming online for free on Canada Media Fund's Encore+ YouTube channel.

Awards and nominationsEdit

The film garnered eleven Genie Award nominations at the 14th Genie Awards.[2] It won three:


  1. ^ a b "Go west, young filmmaker". The Globe and Mail, 1 September 1993.
  2. ^ "The Lotus Eaters strong contender at Genies". The Globe and Mail, 11 December 1993.

External linksEdit