Starring: Steve Evets, Eric Cantona, Stephanie Bishop
Directed by: Ken Loach (“The Wind that Shakes the Barley”)
Written by: Paul Laverty (“The Wind that Shakes the Barley”)
Just in time for World Cup madness, director Ken Loach’s new film “Looking for Eric” takes soccer pandemonium to a surprisingly emotional level. Despite it’s uneven and awkwardly altered tone in the third act, the performances by Steve Evets and former professional footballer Eric Cantona make for a winning combination.
In the film, British postman and soccer fanatic Eric Bishop (Evets) has lost total control of his own home and life. His two stepsons constantly disrespect him and his loneliness is finally become all too much for him to handle.
When Eric begins to have visions of his favorite soccer player, real-life Manchester United athlete Eric Cantona (playing himself), he questions his existence as he holds conversations with the man he would most like to emulate.
It’s evident that Eric hasn’t experienced joy in years when he asks Cantona about the last time he was truly happy. When his daughter urges him to reconcile with his estranged ex, Eric realizes that it’s not too late to make a fresh start. With the support of his loyal mailroom friends, Eric goes on a self-discovering journey to face the fears and painful memories that have stunted him
Through their intimate discussions, the two Erics forming this camaraderie based on fantasy is what director Loach and screenwriter Paul Laverty do best. By reminiscing about the good times in his life, we witness Eric return to a conscience state of mind. With Cantona as the catalyst in his newly-found confidence, the special bond they share becomes more important than any of the secondary storylines.
It’s not until the third act when Laverty loses us with a weirdly positioned plot point that he seems to have pulled from the stratosphere. From an engaging narrative about friendship and free will to an obtuse crime thriller that is far less humorous than imagined, the “Eric” missteps. The trip-up into realism, however, is forgivable. At the end, “Looking for Eric” is a self-help book with a feel-good message.