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|Looking for Eric|
dir Ken Loach
scr Paul Laverty
with Steve Evets, Eric Cantona, Stephanie Bishop, John Henshaw, Gerard Kearns, Stefan Gumbs, Lucy-Jo Hudson, Steve Marsh, Matthew McNulty, Laura Ainsworth, Justin Moorhouse, Des Sharples
release UK 12.Jun.09, US 7.May.10
09/UK Icon 1h52
Personal trainer: Evets and Cantona
CANNES FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Loach and Laverty make an unusually warm, funny and slightly surreal drama about a man rediscovering himself. Even a rather overwrought plot can't undermine the engaging characters and insightful observations.
Manchester postman Eric Bishop (Evets) is at the end of his rope, with tearaway teen stepsons Ryan and Jess (Kearns and Gumbs) and a paralysing fear of aggravating old wounds with his ex-wife Lily (Bishop) as they jointly care for their infant granddaughter while their daughter (Hudson) is at university. Heeding some self-help advice, he conjures up iconic footballer Eric Cantona, as a sort of imaginary life coach. When Ryan's involvement with a local thug (Marsh) boils over into violence, Cantona tells Eric to rely on his teammates to sort things out.
Cantona is one of the most beloved Manchester United players ever, and he clearly enjoys poking fun at his mythology. His screen presence is simply wonderful--commanding physicality, wry sense of humour, uncanny philosophising ("I am not a man, I am Cantona!"). There are also plenty of clips of his remarkable goal-scoring back in the day. His interaction with the terrific Evets is thoroughly endearing as the scruffy loser finds in his lifelong idol the inspiration to take control of his life.
Loach and Laverty are superb at keeping their films centred on relationships while also examining social issues, and this is no exception, although the issues are more interpersonal and the dialog is snappier. The complex dynamic between Eric and his stepsons is fascinating. And Evets also shines in the scenes with Bishop, as his paralysing nerves come up against her kindness and self-confidence. But the main thing is the team, and the colourful actors who play Eric's friends are great fun to watch--silly, stupid and fiercely loyal.
So it's a bit distracting when a subplot involving a gun begins to take over and even Cantona gets into the action. But just when we begin to worry that it's turning into yet another British crime comedy, there's a fantastic comical payoff. This is a witty and surprisingly emotional film about how we need to share our burdens if we want to move on. And in the end, it leaves us with uncontrollable smiles on our faces.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2009 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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