sex as a foreign language

awkward aural adventures

Looking For Eric

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Looking For Eric
Dir: Ken Loach
Star: Steve Evets, Eric Cantona, Stephanie Bishop, Gerard Kearns
Cert: 15

It’s easy to forget. It’s easy to let the passage of time quell raw emotion into a fuzzy haze. Modern football has a short memory, superstars are quickly replaced, transfer records based daily and wages plucked from the sky. So it was a genuine surprise that one of the by products of seeing clips of Eric Cantona in his strutting, karate tinged pomp in Ken Loach’s new surrealist drama Looking For Eric was to experience the onset of genuine goosebumps inspired not just by football clips from the last millenia, but by clips of a Manchester United player!

Given his latter day development as an actor, a philosopher and a man who can do a nice line in selling cars Eric Cantona is a figure rife for mockery, which is exactly the reason that the marrying of Cantona to gritty British director Ken Loach could have gone so horribly wrong. Fortunately Loach (Kes) is no mug and, guided by a script from long time collaborator Paul Laverty he has crafted a film that is both surreal, harsh and unexpectedly moving.

Eric Bishop (Steve Evets) is a man who’s life is in ever decreasing spirals of collapse. Lumbered with two stepsons from his last marriage, it is when his now adult daughter from his first marriage asks him to drop her own baby off at his first ex wifes house that he realises he is still in love with her and has been in a purgatorial limbo ever since he left her over crossed wires and ill communications all those years ago.

It’s in a state of despair over his current circumstances, and aided by the perloining of his stepsons weed supply, that Eric first comes across his statuesque idol, Cantona literally appearing out of a closet. From here on in Eric has a guide, a signpost to getting his life back on track. Evets is a tour de force as the beleagured postie, bringing a realism and verite to the part that perfectly balances the surrealism of Cantona, played of course by Lui-Même as the credits list. Evets is no stranger in real life to dealing with surreal situations, one of the endless supply of ex members of The Fall, he once went toe to toe with Mark E Smith.

The moments when Cantona are on screen are a perfect mix of comical, absurd and heartwarming. It is difficult to criticise Cantona when playing himself, and there is very little to fault, but there are times when he seems to revel in the self parody a little too deeply. Fortunately Loach has the skill to temper these with moments of pure genius, the now infamous ‘trumpet scene’, will surely live on in clips shows for eternity.

Where the film frays is, like so many premiership teams, when it tries to visit the harsher, darker sides of life. The two stepsons have become involved in violent crime and need all their dads help to get them out of it. It’s never less than evocative and affecting but it turns Looking For Eric into a film of two halves. In the end the richest moments of the film come from the relationships between Eric and his hero and first wife Lily, and the efforts of his boss to try and bring him round via the mire of self help.

As an exercise in exploring Cantona’s mythic relationship with the fans it is a unique work, as a heartwarming surrealist drama it will be, and thoroughly deserves to be, one of Loach’s greatest hits, if not greatest work.

Looking For Eric is out now on national release.


One Response

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  1. I enjoyed this article thanks for contributing 🙂 Cheers! Good job!


    June 21, 2009 at 12:58 am

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