Film Review: Looking for Eric

Looking for Eric Poster

Funny how things turns out. I had an early appointment on the 8th June, which was a direct result of missing a prior appointment back in May. The morning appointment meant I was able to pick up a copy of the Metro, which featured an interview with Mr Cantona, the man himself.

Now I use the term “The Man Himself” loosely. You see, TWKM knows that I’m no football fan. My ex-housemate Imran will attest to that, after I happily swapped seats with him to back the TV at an England match in the pub once. However, TWK Eric Cantona, probably knows him AS the Man himself. Fair do’s, and for all intended purposes, he is the man in the film I’m about to review.

Of course the interview was about the then upcoming film Looking for Eric, which was the second choice for last night’s impulse film going. Imran wasn’t manly enough to enjoy 2 hours of big robots and giant explosions, and as it turns out, that was actually a good thing.

So what the hell is the film about? Synopsis goes something like this:

Eric the postman is slipping through his own fingers…

His wife has gone, 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. <spoiler>How can he face up to Lily, the woman of his dreams that he once loved and walked out on many years ago? </spoiler> Despite the comical efforts and misplaced goodwill of his mates, Eric continues to sink.

In desperate times it takes a spliff and a special friend to help a lost postman find his way, so Eric 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.”

Looking for Eric is a British feel good movie, you remember those don’t you? Films that narrates through real life drama and struggles of the average person, carried by an ongoing theme, textured by essence of the local city and era the story is based upon:

  • The Full Monty – 5 Steel workers turn to a striptease act for money against the backdrop of 1970s City of Steel
  • Brassed Off – A brass band’s struggle to their pit’s closure set in South Yorkshire
  • Billy Eliott – A young boy’s dream to becoming a dancer against all odds during the miner’s strike in the 80s
  • Son of Rambow2 young boys’ attempt to remake Rambo during the summer of 1983
  • Looking for Eric – A postman’s seeking advice from his footballer hero as his troubled past and present came knocking down the door of his Manchester home.

… to name a few. And that’s the beauty of British feel good movies, it tackles real problems, following real people, and not forgetting that the world carries on around them even when they’re stuck in their spot.

Eric Bishop

Eric Bishop - scruffy and knows it

Eric Bishop is an instantly recognisable figure on the streets. He’s scruffy, he’s obviously past his sell by date, and he’s crying like a drunken old man on a hospital bed apologising and babbling “I can’t be late for work”. Sympathy is the first emotion triggered in me – Eric is a somber man with a bleak future, he’s the guy you probably wouldn’t want to sit next to on the bus (maybe I’m being overly harsh here). But the thing is, he knows how you see him, and instantly he becomes more than that weirdo on the bus – he’s human.

Soon we explore Eric’s world, his colleagues are his friends and they love the old bastard. Fail as they might, they all try to figure out what the hell is wrong with the man they used to know and cheering him up. He has two step-sons under his roof, with uninvited friends trolling his hallway, all ignoring his loud and angry gestures of discontentment. This is where Sympathy turns into Empathy I guess, through Eric’s eyes, it’s easy to relate to why he feels the way he feels. He’s not just a lonely man hiding in a bedsit, drinking his problems away. He’s a sober, hard working postman with two teenagers to support, whom have turned his home into a TV warehouse.

You think you’ve pretty much sussed out what’s wrong with the guy, and where his troubles stemmed. You couldn’t be further from the truth. Amongst the chaos of the world Eric lives in, he’s being burdened by a haunting memory from his past, and his idol Eric Cantona implores him to confront it over a spliff as he stood over Eric’s trunk in the bedroom.

From here, the film continues to explore the adoration and idealisation Eric holds for Cantona, mixed in with many cheeky banters between the Man.U fan and the French speaker. From the recollection of the best goals of the legend’s career, to the banters of the “old school” fans with the modern “Sponsored T-Shirt” fans. Even a non-football fan like myself can quickly relate to the obsessions that the true fans hold dear to. It’s not just about the team, it’s about the legends, principles and most of all, the game.

Eric and Eric Cantona

Meet Eric, and Eric

As we follow Eric’s imaginary conversations with his hero, we see him confronting his inner demons, he finally lets his guard down and let his emotions go. Eric has evolved into this tragic hero from the 80s who had always had the good heart and intension. His core person is still there, but his past problems had built up this wall brick by brick to stop him from facing the real world. Yet he had just put on a brave face and fought on over the years, loving his two step-sons by action not by expressions.

As we finally get to understand the guy, along with the characters in the story, we see the light at the end of the tunnel. The film makers would probably have called it wrap right here, and it would have been a great journey. But no, Eric has more problems to face, and that’s exactly what live throws at you, constantly. Can the new Eric really deal with the new troubles bubbling from right  beneath his feet? Or will the new Eric crumple under the sheer weight of the chaos that is out of his control? You’ll have to see it for yourself :)

Bottom-line: A film that really explores what happens when things are left unsaid. Overall very realistic besides the few rather cheesy moments that still put a smile on your face.


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