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LOOKING FOR ERIC

16-06-2009

Looking for Eric

Soccer superstar makes shock move to gritty British drama – and guess what? It’s a surprise result reports Paula Elenor.

Ken Loach’s admirers must have wondered if he had sold out his socialist principles or lost his marbles when he created his latest film featuring Eric Cantona.

We certainly don’t expect celebrity cameos and wacky fantasy touches in Loach’s body of work.

Rather, we have come to expect gritty social realism; the tragic and, sometimes, heroic struggles of ordinary men and women striving for dignity and justice in a world of bullies; an understated, naturalistic acting style and an authentic sense of place and social class.

Well, don’t worry; Looking for Eric is still recognisably a Loach film, only this time he has pulled off a rather unlikely stunt - the lead character,

Eric Bishop, a depressive Manuncian football-mad postal worker, has an imaginary – yes, imaginary - counsellor to facilitate his recovery – Eric Cantona himself. It is a tribute to the craft of Loach as a film maker and his writer, Paul Laverty, that he actually off pulls this unlikely juxtaposition.

Steve Evets does a fantastic job of portraying the kindly if hapless Eric. We are genuinely moved by his journey of re-discovery as he marshals resources of inner- strength and decency, and we are scared for him when things spiral terrifyingly out of control.

But Loach has everything under-control – the neatly stitched narrative, the delicate performances of the lead characters, the comedy postmen, the casual brutality of the Mancunian gangsters, and the larger than life presence of Eric Cantona himself sharing a “smoke” with postie Eric in his humble bedroom. Somehow, it seems to fit together

This is a life-affirming comedy, celebrating the power of kindness, friendship and the mutual support of co-workers. The super-heroes in this film ultimately are the posties - not Eric Cantona – as fantastic and generous as his persona appears in the film.

If Ken Loach’s take on life leaves you cold or indifferent, then don’t bother seeing the film. However, if you are open to a comedic & humane depiction of ordinary folk just struggling along, then Looking for Eric is definitely worth a look!

See the trailer here

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