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LOOKING FOR ERIC

Director: KEN LOACH

U.K.-FRANCE-ITALY-BELGIUM • 2009 • COLOUR • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 116 MIN


BRITISH VETERAN KEN LOACH HAS TEAMED UP WITH FORMER MANCHESTER UNITED FOOTBALLER ERIC CANTONA TO MAKE A TENDER COMEDY THAT SPRINKLES A LITTLE FANTASY — AND NOT A FEW LAUGHS — INTO THE HARSH MODERN WORLD THAT THE DIRECTOR HAS EXPLORED OVER FIVE DECADES OF FILMMAKING.

This being a Loach film, neither the comedy nor the fantasy comes at the expense of passionate realism. Eric Bishop (Steve Evets) is a Manchester postman at the end of his tether: he’s the single stepfather of two tearaway boys, he can’t keep up with the bills and he holds a flame for the wife who left him many years before. Eric is on the verge of a breakdown when his all-time hero, Eric Cantona, appears to him in a vision. The controversial Frenchman becomes a coach of sorts, encouraging him to think positively, sort out his life, and appreciate his fun and caring work colleagues, a likeable bunch of posties played by an entertaining group of Manchester actors and comedians.

Paul Laverty, the writer of all Loach’s films since Carla’s Song in 1996, deftly ensures that the magical element of this urban fairytale doesn’t jar with the film’s chief concerns: the difficulties of growing up and the slow erosion of working-class male solidarities, whether in the work-place or at the football ground. As ever with Loach, there’s a hint of nostalgia for a past age as Eric’s crisis is blamed on changes in society that include modern employment structures, but the film’s observations on the chaos in this man’s life are always acute and often moving. Cantona offers a Zen-like presence and the ultimate outlook of the film is hopeful, thought-provoking and funny. — Dave Calhoun.

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