Looking For Eric (15)



Comedy (2009)
116mins UK

Starring: Steve Evets, Eric Cantona, Stephanie Bishop, Gerard Kearns, Lucy-Jo Hudson, Stefan Gumbs
Director: Ken Loach
Writer(s): Paul Laverty
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Eric Bishop is a postman whose life went into free-fall the day he ran out on his childhood sweetheart, Lily. Abandoned by his wife and forced to singlehandedly raise his two rebellious stepsons, Ryan and Jess, Eric is teetering on the brink of a mental breakdown, with only his workmates including Meatballs to keep him sane. After the latest fiery encounter with his boys, Eric takes one of Ryan's joints and begins talking to his favourite poster of Manchester United legend Eric Cantona, searching for inspiration. Miraculously, the footballer appears to Eric and becomes the postman's invisible friend, guiding the single father on a journey back to self-redemption.

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LondonNet Film Review
Looking For Eric

British director Ken Loach shot his latest bittersweet slice of life on location in Manchester, and scores possibly his most mainstream, feel-good hit to date - except perhaps in Liverpool...

Steve Evets & Eric Cantona in Looking For Eric. Icon FilmWith a pivotal dramatic role for both Manchester United Football Club and its fondly-remembered Gallic superstar Eric Cantona, Looking For Eric could stick in the craw of the Anfield faithful, bitter rivals to Alex Ferguson's men. For everyone else, this heartfelt coming-of-middle-age story, penned by Loach's longtime collaborator Paul Laverty, finds emotional truth and earthy humour in the simple story of a single father struggling to raise two stepsons. The introduction of the eponymous footballer - a figment of the central character's imagination - provides an unusual catalyst for the subsequent journey of self-discovery and self-realisation. "He who is afraid to throw the dice will never throw a six," proclaims the phantom Eric in typically cryptic fashion. "I'm up to here with your philosophy," replies his protege. "I'm still getting over the bloody seagulls!" The hilarious footage of the infamous 1995 press conference at which Cantona flaunted his disdain for the media with that terse statement - "When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea" - bookends the film.

Eric Bishop (Steve Evets) is a postman in emotional free-fall. Abandoned by his wife Chrissie and forced to single-handedly raise his rebellious teenage stepsons Ryan (Gerard Kearns) and Jess (Stefan Gumbs), Eric is teetering on the brink of a mental breakdown. His workmate Meatballs (John Henshaw) turns to a Paul McKenna self-help book for guidance, which suggests the path to enlightenment lies in following the example of an idol. For Eric the postman, only one man fits the bill: Manchester United legend Cantona. After the latest fiery encounter with his boys, Eric sneaks one of Ryan's spliffs and begins talking to his favourite poster of the footballing legend, searching for inspiration. Miraculously, 'King Eric' (playing himself) materialises in front of the stunned father. "It's really you," gasps Eric. "Say something in French!" "Je suis Eric Cantona," comes the curt, concise reply. With the icon at his side, Eric embarks on a roller-coaster journey back to self-redemption, which includes helping Ryan to wriggle from the grasp of a local crimelord and re-establishing contact with childhood sweetheart Lily (Stephanie Bishop).

Steve Evets & Eric Cantona in Looking For Eric. Icon FilmLooking For Eric opens at a canter with the postman crashing his car driving the wrong way around a roundabout, then settles into a leisurely stroll as the postman is used like a doormat by his two boys. Evets is instantly likeable in the central role, and the camaraderie with his fellow postmen is peppered with belly laughs. The former footballer pokes fun at himself with glee - "I am not a man, I am Cantona!" - and is elevated to godlike status for a rousing finale that will have (non-Liverpudlian) audiences cheering in the terraces of their local cinema.

- Kim Hu


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