VOD film review: Looking for Eric
James R | On 24, Oct 2016
Director: Ken Loach
Cast: Steve Evets, Eric Cantona, John Henshaw
It’s not easy being a postman. Especially if you’re a postman shacked up with two stepson who hate you and leave cement mixers in your garden. Not to mention still being in love with the wife you left years back, or being absolutely obsessed with a Man Utd footballer. That last part is the key to Looking for Eric, because while Eric the postie (Evets) is just a man, his hero is something else entirely: he is Cantona.
Things start going right for Eric when, one day, Cantona appears in his bedroom – a sure sign Eric’s lost his stamps completely. Cantona then starts to spout such insights as “without danger, we cannot get beyond danger”, stroking his beard like some kind of athletic, goal-scoring Dumbledore. With that cod-French philosophy on his side, Eric begins to put his life back together, with a little help from his Manchester mates – “Stand in front of your fucking imaginary mirror!” instructs Eric’s foul-mouthed friend, Meatballs (the hilarious Henshaw), taking his troubles very seriously. Effing and blinding their way through Eric’s mid-life crisis, the affectionate ensemble are a winning team.
The whole piece is a winner, in fact. Perhaps lifting a note from Mike Leigh, Ken Loach’s upbeat offering is happy-go-lucky and tender; exchanging grim wit for laugh-out-loud humour, it’s a look at life’s low points through the eyes of a seasoned director. That’s not to say they know no bad times, as Eric’s gun-smuggling stepsons show, but even the gruffer notes (including a harsh police raid) can’t drown out the positive tune; in the script’s one tonal misstep, we learn that apparently a coach full of football fans can cure life’s serious problems with the wave of a bat. A naive plot-point, but Looking for Eric has enough feel-good charm to get away with it.
Credit must go to Evets for his Little Eric, who is never outshone by Big Eric. Even when he plays the trumpet – a great surreal moment of self-awareness. Cantona’s charisma (and clear sense of humour) blend into this character-driven creation with sublime ease. With Steve Laverty’s witty writing and a brilliant Brit at the helm, there’s a strangely fresh tone to this tried and tested theme – less of a Play it Again, Sam, and more of a Pass It Again, Eric. And with this team on the ball, it was always headed for the back of the net.