Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 
Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable

Art-house Crowd Pleaser: Loach Lightens Up with "Looking for Eric"

By Anthony Kaufman | Indiewire May 18, 2009 at 1:50AM

In 2006, British director Ken Loach won Cannes' top prize with a bracing chronicle of the Irish Republican Army's struggles against the British in the 1920s. Three years later, he's come up with a film that couldn't be more different in tone and subject matter - a lighthearted dramatic comedy about a distraught middle-aged postal worker, Eric Bishop, who gets his groove back by channeling his favorite soccer hero, Eric Cantona, the legendary French star of UK team Manchester United.
0

In 2006, British director Ken Loach won Cannes' top prize with a bracing chronicle of the Irish Republican Army's struggles against the British in the 1920s. Three years later, he's come up with a film that couldn't be more different in tone and subject matter - a lighthearted dramatic comedy about a distraught middle-aged postal worker, Eric Bishop, who gets his groove back by channeling his favorite soccer hero, Eric Cantona, the legendary French star of UK team Manchester United.

Comparisons to Woody Allen's "Play it Again, Sam" are inevitable, as Cantona magically appears in the postman's bedroom one day, offering advice along with his trademark aphorisms. Cantona isn't Bogart, of course, but knowledge of the famous footballer isn't necessary to enjoy the conceit or the version of himself he plays on screen: A suave macho man who serves a similar spirit-boosting purpose.

Still, Loach and screenwriting partner Paul Laverty continue to work in their familiar social realistic-kitchen sink mode. Bishop lives in a cramped, cluttered multi-level flat, with his step-sons, bad-seed Ryan and the younger black Jess, both of whom appear out of control. His second-wife left him seven years before and he's never dealt with the fact that he abandoned the first love of his life, Lily, shortly after the birth of their daughter Sam.

But Loach and Laverty choose to depict Bishop's depression in mostly comic terms: A couple of hilarious early sequences show Bishop's friends at the post office trying to cheer him up. In an excellent bit, the working class lads - with names like Spleen and Meatballs - turn to corny self-help exercises in order to raise Bishop's self-esteem. One in which they envision someone they respect - in Bishop's case, Cantona - is what brings the soccer player into Bishop's reality.

The film's heart belongs to the tentative reconciliation between Bishop and Lily, former rock n' roll dancing partners in their younger years. To the script's discredit, this emotional resolution happens too easily. On the other hand, an unexpected plot twist involving a handgun and a hundred guys wearing Eric Cantona masks suggests that Loach and Laverty may be just as much interested in the joys of comedy and vindication than the struggles of overcoming past misdeeds.

It's a refreshing shift from the sometimes overt class-conscious sermonizing found in previous Loach outings; the only scenes that come close to such politics are a debate about a corporate-sponsored soccer team that's sold out to the highest bidder - still handled humorously - and the fact that poor Bishop is too poor to get tickets to his beloved soccer matches, the one place, he says, where you could "forget all the shit in your life for just a few hours." It's a defter handling of social issues than we've seen from Loach in a long time.

Indeed, "Looking for Eric" belongs less to the tradition of hard-hitting British dramas that frequent Cannes and increasingly more along the lines of the sort of slight crowd-pleasing fare that does well in U.S. art-houses. And although Cantona may be less known in America than overseas, there's no denying the comic fun of seeing a burly sportsman put on some rock n' roll and cut a rug with another man.

This article is related to: Reviews, Looking For Eric






Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome



Awards Season Spotlight

Contender Conversations

Indiewire celebrates the best and brightest from Independent film, Hollywood, and foreign cinema.

More