Looking For Eric


Loach fuses football and philosophy...

Woody invoked Bogart in Play It Again, Sam. Christian summoned Elvis in True Romance…

For Steve Evets’ crumpled postman Eric, it’s Man Utd’s ’90s goal-machine Eric Cantona who materialises as an imaginary life coach, steering the depressed parcel-pusher out of a funk.

In contrast to his hero, postman Eric is small, hunched and unstriking. He struggles to control his teenage stepsons and skulks around in an isolated perma-sulk, pining for ex-wife Lily and gazing at his life-size Cantona poster...

And then the freshly grizzled Cantona of today steps off Eric’s wall and into his smoke-fogged bedroom, stirring him to take control of himself and his life. For the first hour, Loach deftly mines fresh spice from familiar territory (unchannelled working-class rage, service-industry drudgery, male camaraderie).

Evets is pained but plucky, while Cantona is wonderful – watchful, understated, blazing with charisma, smirking at the odd selfparodic aside (“I am not a man. I am Cantona!”).

Loach even finds time to offer a sneaky political elbow-jab at the middle-class gentrification of football. But then he seems to lose nerve, diverting a funny and likeable character study down a much darker alley, with implausible results.

Shame to see one of our least compromising directors drawing inspiration from an equally uncompromising star – but then fluffing the whole thing with a flabby, feelgood… compromise.

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