LOOKING FOR ERIC
Directed by Ken Loach
Starring Steve Evets, Eric Cantona, John Henshaw
Loach is rarely averse to eulogies of working-class heroes and the power of solidarity. He is less well known for adopting fanciful comic surrealism. Oddly, in combining the two, he’s made one of his most entertaining, uplifting films.
Eric Bishop (Evets) is a middle-aged postman whose life has lost its lustre. His wife has gone, dumping his out-of-control stepsons on him. He’s having panic attacks. The United fanatic’s only comforts are the camaraderie of his colleagues and cannabis. It may have something to do with the latter, but one day his idol – French soccer star turned cod-philosopher Eric Cantona – appears in his room. Cantona dispenses gnomic advice, and our Eric reclaims his spirit. He strives to woo his true love and to free his stepsons from a cycle of violence.
It’s not plain sailing – Loach wouldn’t abide that – but it’s mighty close to “heart-warming”. The use of Cantona – like Bogart in Woody Allen’s Play It Again, Sam – is a likeable device, while Evets’ nervy energy is brilliant. A risky shot, but a winner.