Tuesday, 2 February 2010


Icon Home Entertainment
Out on DVD and Blu-ray February 3

Director Ken Loach is known for his films about blue collar protagonists and the politics of class. And in his most recent film, the Cannes-winning The Wind That Shakes The Barley (2006), he examined the early years of the IRA. His films are not known for their sense of humour.

Perhaps that is why some found his latest, Looking For Eric, which also competed at Cannes, a little hard to fathom. While not exactly a comedy, Looking For Eric finds Loach at the lighter end of the spectrum with regards to story. Eric Bishop (Steve Evets) is a postman in Manchester for whom everything has suddenly come to a head. Twice divorced and with two unruly adolescent boys, Eric has suddenly begun pining for his first wife who he abandoned when panic at the life ahead set in, the same panic that is now hampering his day-to-day life.

Eric's daily joint may also be one of the causes of this anxiety but it also provides the conduit for him to communicate with his hero, French football player Eric Cantona (played by Cantona himself). In their regular chats, Cantona performs the role of life coach, guiding Eric with riddle-like quotes of the kind he used to confound sports journalists during his playing days.

In the film's second half, a subplot involving one of Eric's son's and a local gangster, for whom he has been hiding a gun as a test of loyalty, comes to the fore. It is here I thought the film was about to take the same route as Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino (2008) with its martyr-like climax.

It doesn't, thankfully, but its own denouement left me similarly underwhelmed. Not funny enough to be a comedy, Looking For Eric is somewhat of an oddity, even more so for being a Ken Loach film without a political agenda. Still, football fans, specifically those enamoured with Eric Cantona, may find some amusement here.

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