"Looking for Eric" Employs Soccer Star Eric Cantona – and a Village – to Raise a Man
What might strike American viewers as the most quizzical thing about Looking for Eric, Ken Loach's humble ode to soccer heroes and coming of middle age in Manchester, is not its footie fixation but the unholy fuss kicked up by the possession of a single handgun. Hidden under the floorboards of the home of local postman Eric Bishop (Steve Evets) by one of his rotten stepsons, that gun causes a lot of problems. Add those to the list of less pressing bummers – loneliness, crushing regret – that writer Paul Laverty moves us through at a drifting pace. Mixing light magical realism with a more familiar brand of working-class gloom, Loach's warm, comic touch elevates the story of an aging man cracking up in plain sight. When we meet Eric, he is literally stuck in a loop: In the grip of a panic attack, he drives into a roundabout's oncoming traffic. In the aftermath of his breakdown, he revisits his first loves, soccer star Eric Cantona (who plays himself, brilliantly, as a figment of Eric's imagination) and a woman named Lily (Stephanie Bishop). It's the business with that blasted gun that forces Eric to pull himself together. Ironically – and pretty sweetly – it takes a village (or, in this case, several buses of soccer buddies) to raise a full-grown man.
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