Starring: Steve Evets, Eric Cantona, Stephanie Bishop, Gerard Kearns, Stefan Gumbs
Running Time: 115 Minutes
Score: 7 / 10
This great review is by Jason O'Mahoney.
Loving both movies and football, I'm constantly disappointed that the beautiful game invariably goes down like a lead balloon or like Ronaldo in the penalty area when it makes the transition to the silver screen. Movie gods and football stars are like oil and water, seldom mixing and big screen adaptations of the game often end in tears, even with players of the caliber of Pele and Bobby Moore playing footballers, as they did in ESCAPE TO VICTORY (1982).
Paradoxically some footballers have gone on to become more successful as actors in non-football roles, most notably Vinnie Jones, who burst onto the scene in LOCK, STOCK & TWO SMOKING Barrels (1998). He was, apparently, paid more for his role in GONE IN 60 SECONDS (2000) than he made in his entire football career!
So as a Manchester United fan and one time devotee at the church of Cantona, it was with a mixture of excitement and trepidation that I went to see LOOKING FOR ERIC the new film from Ken Loach starring Manchester United legend, Eric Cantona.
The story follows Eric, a Manchester postman, played by Steve Evets, whose life is slowly slipping out of control. His second wife deserted him, his stepsons are out of control and the house was chaotic even before a cement mixer appeared in the front garden. Life is crazy enough, but it is Eric's own secret that is driving him to the brink. How can he face up to Lily, his first wife and the woman of his dreams? He once loved her deeply, only to walk out on her as soon as they had a child together. Despite the comical efforts and misplaced goodwill of his mates, Eric continues to sink and is becoming more and more depressed.
In desperate times, he takes a spliff and a special friend turns up to help him find his way. He turns to his hero, footballing genius, philosopher and poster boy, Eric Cantona. As a certain Frenchman says, "He who is afraid to throw the dice, will never throw a six," so Eric the postman, under the watchful tutelage of Eric the legend, learns how to laugh in the face of insurmountable odds and starts to play the game of life again.
The movie was shot entirely on location in Manchester and has a grainy and at times almost grim look to it and, while Loach's true to life directing style has never been known for its comedy, the film is a bitter-sweet and often hilarious look at life. It's a lovable film and a rousing crowd pleaser and both leads put in outstanding performances, particularly Evets as postman Eric. Die-hard football fans may be disappointed that the game is given relatively little screen time but the moments from Cantona's career that are presented are mesmerizing and a reminder, if any were needed, that football is truly a beautiful game! Film fans will love the picture, it's the most entertaining thing Loach has done in years, it's just a pity that it's impossible to bring back King Eric to Old Trafford. It's high time a true genius and footballing great were in control of the coveted number 7.
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