Movie review: Looking for Eric
Eric, the main character of Ken Loach’s “Looking for Eric”, is in a rut: he’s on his own for raising his two stepsons, a truant and a delinquent; he lost the love of his live twenty years ago; and, just recovered from a serious car accident, is unable to muster enough dynamism to properly do his job. His life is increasingly slipping away from him–until one night, his idol Eric Cantona appears to him and tries to get him to change…
OK, when I first saw the trailer for this, the idea seemed pretty ridiculous. I mean, how can you even think Cantona would make a decent guardian angel? Plus, the only other Ken Loach movie I saw in its entirety was Land and Freedom, set during the Spanish civil war: I was forced to sit through several viewings of it in Spanish class and was not very much amused or enthralled.
However, this one works. Loach’s always been very good at depicting the lives of working-class men, and here he paints a quiet, tender picture of the fraternity of postmen (and football fans in their spare time). It could have been a very grim movie, since it deals with lots of violence and harsh facts of life–but instead, it’s a gently absurdist fable about taking charge of one’s life. Loach doesn’t shy away from the grimness of Eric’s life, but the darkness acts as counterpart to plenty of laugh-out loud moments (the scenes between Cantona and Steve Evets, who plays Eric, are brilliant tongue-in-cheek fun). The finale was made of awesome Monty Python silliness.
I actually walked out of this one smiling, and that is no mean feat.
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I haven’t seen this one yet – as it hasn’t done as well as hoped at the UK box office, I suspect I will be watching this on DVD. I haven’t checked, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Looking for Eric has done far better in Paris cinemas. That wouldn’t be the first time for a Loach film – he seems to have more fans in France than he does in his own country.
Most of Loach’s films are worth seeing, though Looking for Eric sounds more lighthearted than most. The one most people seem to agree is a classic is Kes, though subtitles are handy for the strong Barnsley accents!
A significant chunk of scenes in the movie are funnier if you know both French and English (there’s a fair amount of Cantona running around with a strong French accent); so I suspect the movie did work better in France than in England. But it’s still very good regardless, and worth watching on DVD.
Ken Loach does have quite a following here (like Woody Allen, stronger here than in his home country). I was surprised by this movie, which I expected to be on par with what I’d heard of his other movies (ie, bleak). One day, I might check some others out, when I’ve built some resistance to dark, bleak stuff…
Thanks for chiming in 🙂
They aren’t all bleak – Raining Stones is a good one which mixes humour with drama. Ae Fond Kiss is worth seeing. But yes, the ending of Kes is one for the handkerchief!
Ha, I’ll make a note of Raining Stones then. As I said, I have very bad memories of Land and Freedom, which is pretty much bleak all along.