Saturday, 6 February 2010

Looking For Eric - Dir. Ken Loach

He was a King to millions of Red Army followers, including postman Eric Bishop (Steve Evets). His wife has left him, his step-sons don’t respect him and he’s losing touch with his eldest daughter, desperate and depressed Eric turns to the only person he believes he can trust; French superstar and Manchester legend Eric Cantona (playing himself). Lighting up a spliff in the darkest corner of his bedroom, Eric turns to the footballing-philosopher as he hopes to get his life back on track, just as Cantona did after returning from a four-month ban for kung-fu kicking a hooligan during a match at Selhurst Park.

‘Looking For Eric’ sees Ken Loach go back to doing what he does best creating charming, heart-warming and at times, incredibly funny, film-making. Eric is a man on the brink, he can’t control his children nor does he have the confidence to approach his ex-wife Lily (Stephanie Bishop). His closest friends aren’t much help either. Despite working with him in the post-room for years, they all mean well, but there attempts at cheering up Eric generally lead to hilarious situations rather than uplifting sentiment. However this film is not a comedy, it is a socio-drama that concentrates upon one character, Eric, as he reaches the brink of self-destruction, but through those around him (despite how unhelpful they are at times) he manages to build himself back up into the man he always wanted to be. While the real genius of this film is in the beautifully shot sequences involving Eric and Eric (Cantona) as they try to find solutions to his problems. Eric Cantona is not simply an idol or a footballer to Eric the Postman in this film he is a lot more than that, Cantona is his saviour in the form of an understanding intelligent human being, and this relationship drives the film delightfully until the final scene and its inspirational climax.

If you’re put off by notion of a footballer being in relatively large role in a feature film, reserve your judgement for after you have seen this film. Ken Loach hits a hat-trick of successes with ‘Looking For Eric’ as the story, acting and direction all combine to create one of the best dramas of 2009. In the immortal words of Mr Cantona himself; "When the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea." And no, I still don’t know what (or who) Eric Cantona was referring to when he made that statement...
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