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Eric’s Idol: Ken Loach’s “Looking for Eric”

Eric's Idol: Ken Loach's "Looking for Eric"

Eric Cantona, “The King” and “the man who made football art,” the French-born hunk who led Manchester United to four league titles, is not a household name in the States. He’s no David Beckham or even Zinedine Zidane, but trust Ken Loach’s Looking for Eric that he’s a big deal. In the film, Eric Bishop (Steve Evets), is seeing him—not romantically, or even corporeally, but whenever the troubled postal worker smokes a bit of his stepson’s pot, the spirit of the very much alive Cantona appears, counseling him on his life crises like the White House portraits speaking to Nixon. But Looking for Eric is not another Harvey or Drop Dead Fred, because the imaginary friend element is only one in director Ken Loach’s genre ragbag, into which he also tosses romantic comedy and his usual social issue drama. Created with frequent collaborators (writer Paul Laverty, cinematographer Barry Ackroyd, composer George Fenton), the film has the same sober, unflashy look and sound as aughts efforts like My Name is Joe and The Wind That Shakes the Barley. There, the deliberate, Loach-ian “nonstyle” complemented the straightforward, hard drama, but here it is not always versatile enough to land the different routines in a movie that occasionally feels more like an omnibus film than one director’s vision. Read Justin Stewart’s review of Looking for Eric.

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