movie film review | chris tookey

Looking for Eric

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  Looking for Eric Review
Tookey's Rating
5 /10
Average Rating
7.50 /10
Steve Evets, Eric Cantona, Stephanie Bishop
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Directed by: Ken Loach
Written by: Paul Laverty

Released: 2009
Genre: DRAMA
Origin: UK/ France/ Belgium/ Italy/ Spain
Length: 116

Chaotic crowd-pleaser from Ken Loach.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Looking for Eric has been acclaimed as Ken Loach’s most feelgood movie, which it is, but it’s disappointingly shambolic in structure and uncertain in tone.

It starts out as a low-key character study of a depressed Mancunian postman called Eric (Steve Evets, pictured) whose bedroom is a shrine to Manchester United. His two teenage stepsons are out of control. His ex-wife hates him. His pals at the post office can’t cheer him up. Luckily, and highly unexpectedly in a Ken Loach film, his lifesize poster of Eric Cantona comes to life and teaches him some belated savoir-faire.

Paul Laverty’s screenplay is an uneasy mixture of ingredients: social realism, earthy comedy, fantastical whimsy, romantic drama and urban thriller. Loach’s sympathy for the underdog remains his most endearing characteristic; but weirdly for a man of the Left he avoids any discussion of the post office in crisis. He settles instead for whingeing about the high price of tickets at Premiership matches.

Cantona as himself comes across as an ultra-confident masculine role-model, but Loach chooses to ignore the disciplinary offences that curtailed his career. Loach sentimentalises the French forward, and turns him into a dictatorial icon: a leader who can do no wrong, a less castrating Castro.

As comedy, the first hour is laboured and pedestrian, with an over-reliance on verbal crudity. The second half strays into romantic drama, as our hero makes tentative overtures to his ex-wife (nicely played by Stephanie Bishop) and she reacts with understandable suspicion. But then, just as the picture seems to be getting into its stride and gaining in warmth, the injection of some very unconvincing crime thriller elements darkens the tone and takes it into a different genre.

And then it ends in, quite literally, riotous comedy. Loach’s crowd-pleasing climax enables our hero to reassert his masculinity as a father, husband and co-worker. This is further evidence of the veteran director’s faith in collective action and working-class solidarity, but it’s also a reminder that he has too often been a defender of law-breaking and violence. Looking for Eric is not so much a game of two halves as a chaotic kickabout, in which the rules of the game keep changing. It will score with some people, but I was looking for more.

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