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The Essential Guide to Bristol
19 June 2009
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Looking For Eric (15)

The ViewBristol Review

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Review byMatthew Turner11/06/2009

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 112 mins

Enjoyable British drama with strong performances from a great cast, though the film's initially intriguing look at mental health issues is ultimately sidelined in favour of a more traditional and less satisfying gangster-based plot.

What's it all about?
Directed by Ken Loach and written by Loach's frequent collaborator Paul Laverty, Looking for Eric stars Steve Evets as depressed Manchester postman Eric Bishop, who's struggling to take care of his two teenaged sons, Ryan (Gerard Kearns) and Jess (Stefan Gumbs) and panicking about having to share babysitting duties with his estranged ex-wife Lily (Stephanie Bishop) while their grown-up daughter (Lucy-Jo Hudson) finishes her degree.

However, help arrives in the unexpected form of footballing legend Eric Cantona (playing himself), who Eric conjures up as a sort of imaginary life coach, after taking some self-help advice from his best friend, fellow postman Meatballs (John Henshaw). However, just as Eric seems to be piecing his life back together (with Cantona's help), he discovers Ryan has gotten in too deep with a local gangster (Steve Marsh) and is hiding a gun in his bedroom.

The Good
Evets is extremely good as Eric, portraying a likeable everyman with problems that we can readily sympathise with. He also has great chemistry with Cantona, whose larger-than-life presence works extremely well here (the film would make a good double bill with Woody Allen's Play It Again, Sam).

Cantona clearly enjoys poking fun at his own image and is extremely funny throughout, while Loach also illustrates Cantona's speeches with footage of some truly remarkable goals, so non-football fans can get the references. There's also strong support from Kearns, Bishop, Henshaw and all the actors playing Eric's fellow postmen.

The Bad
The main problem is that the vaguely familiar gangster plot, while delivering an admittedly brilliant payoff, ultimately detracts from the more interesting man-struggling-with-mental-health-issues drama that the film starts out as. Also, the film cops out of a comedy dancing scene between Evets and Cantona, but that's a minor gripe at best.

Worth seeing?
Looking For Eric is an enjoyable, well directed drama with strong performances from a superb cast. It's also quite possibly Ken Loach's most upbeat movie to date. Highly recommended.

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Looking For Eric (15)
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