Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Movie Review - Looking For Eric

Last week in the Twin Cities we took in a screening of the new Ken Loach directed English film - Looking For Eric. We were invited by One United - the USA Manchester United Supporters. The draw here being a prominent role in the film, albeit surrealist, from United legend Eric Cantona.

The movie is playing in "art house" theaters all around the USA right now.

This review was written by our friend in football Evan Fuhs, who is an assistant coach for men's soccer at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. He has contributed to du Nord before.

Blending fanatical football, British gun crime, and a mid-life crisis in one film requires the power of a massive persona to tie it all together. Thankfully, Manchester ’s favorite philosopher in football boots – Eric Cantona - returns to the big screen to do just that in Ken Loach’s ‘Looking for Eric.’

Despite his frequent forays into film and the cult classic Nike commercials, Cantona, by most accounts, is not a true actor. He was as gifted a footballer as he is a philosopher, but his acting career has never reached the heights of his previous divinely inspired brilliance. Nevertheless, in the film, the depth of his bravado overcomes his clouded English. It is that classic Cantona confidence that forms the film’s foundation.

Eric Bishop, a down-and-out postman in Manchester, is on the verge of a mid-life crisis. His two teenage sons are lost somewhere between porn-addicted adolescents and crime-destined hoodlums. Meanwhile, Eric is forced to face the first love of his life, Lily, who he left decades ago just before the birth of their daughter Sam. Though he has not seen her in decades, Sam asks the two to help in caring for her infant as she finishes school.

To help their friend deal with his obvious depression, Eric’s post-office buddies try everything conceivable, including a hilarious group therapy session from a self-help book. Loach’s generally comical depiction of this proletariat plight is epitomized in the scene where each of Eric’s friends envisions a hero they aspire to emulate. Of course, Bishop names Cantona, and the film is launched.

Cantona soon appears to Bishop out of a marijuana-induced hallucination and goes about transforming Bishop with tough love, biting wit, poetic philosophy and football trivia. All of this is driven by Cantona’s bold confidence and it accordingly inspires Bishop to emerge a new, more fulfilled man.

The film’s comedic portrayal of the working class struggle is a welcome shift from Loach’s typically scathing social sermons. Even when the film turns to more touchy social issues, like corporate owned football clubs and gun crime, the issues are addressed with a cautious, comedic agility as opposed to the overt frontal attack that is more common in British drama. Throughout the film, Loach demonstrates a gentle deftness not seen in his previous work. Even the excessive philosophizing of Cantona is gently parodied, as he utters, “I am not man, I am Cantona” with a perfectly wry smile that says, “I know my musings can get a bit extreme.”

While Cantona has not previously proven as accomplished an actor as he did a footballer, he absolutely portrays himself with enough quality to make the film work. At least for those that have a knowledge of Cantona’s story, Bishop’s working class story reaches out to the heart. The result is a light, but grounded film that is equal parts feel-good, fun and football.


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5:23 AM  
Anonymous online said...

It is a heartwarming film. The film's message is not really about the football, its more about the value of friends. Thanks for sharing the blog with us. Nice information provided.

3:16 AM  

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