DIRECTED BY KEN LOACH
STARRING: STEVE EVETS, STEPHANIE BISHOP, GERARD KEARNS, STEPHAN GUMBS, LUCY-JO HUDSON, JOHN HENSHAW, JUSTIN MOORHOUSE AND ERIC CANTONA
Halfway through ‘Looking for Eric’, Eric Bishop (Steve Evets) sits down to have a smoke with Eric Cantona, a metaphor of his conscience, wishes to digress into football like he always does when confronted by a situation. Eric Cantona (Himself) in turn, dances with him. We don’t see him for the rest of the film from there, even the sequence where he’s most anticipated, where he doesn’t show up but still sends a deputy: Lily. It’s a done deed, what needs to be said had been said and Eric surely had been found. The end result of a search that had in no way been agonizing, but which had been filled with buckets of happiness and awesome goals.
So, how many films have we come across before that dealt with a supernatural character to keep a lonely man company? It would be incompetence on my part (not to mention ignorance) if I fail to quote names over here, but that’s not my point. The question I chose to ask myself instead is what can possibly make Eric Cantona stand out from the multiple geniuses who had nurtured losers in film-town through the ages, up until Chef Gusteau in Brad Bird’s ‘Ratatouille’? Simplicity, perhaps, because the character isn’t stressed, he just walks around and exists, there’s no puff of smoke or surprise. Eric is at home with Eric, and even with a troubled inner self, he’s still able to sit with the same and talk with it. The decisions are his, no minds changed, with the most far-fetched sequence being the most inspiring of the lot: Cantona’s best moment had been in seeing someone else score because of him, he quotes proverbs to substantiate that and he plays the trumpet too (“I’m not a man. I am Cantona.”). A cynic could be prickled here, but I thought it played along pretty well, I was more than happy with the deflation of this celebrity.
The contrast of build almost develops a sort of cool chemistry between the lead characters. Cantona being the tall and sturdy self that he is, while Bishop hovers far on the runty side, Steve Evets proving to be riveting with his performance, a sort of ‘live-in’ act more than a staged show. Lily (Stephanie Bishop, Laura Ainsworth) is amazing, the moments are amazing, I’m thrilled to know that the man Ken Loach could be this romantic at his age, but then again that’s nearly how old Eric is too. Dear me, lots to say, lots to say! Well, moments when Jess (Stephan Gumbs) watches militant rap videos with his friends, moments when I actually suspected him of having hidden the gun, moments when there’s a porn club in Ryan’s (Gerard Kearns) room, and there’s moments when there’s Eric in Eric’s. Goes to show that a man who’s messing his life up messes his children’s life more, because what’s suicide and depression to him turns out to be aggression and violence in the case of his ‘kids’. And I personally found their individual rooms irritating, too much of near-nudes. On the other hand, there’s also the well-mannered (not that the boys aren’t, they had just ‘forgotten’) daughter, the actual offspring Sam (Lucy-Jo Hudson) who is pretty much a breeze, the kind of child parents patch-up for, not to mention the fact that she has a girl of her own, adorable Daisy.
As I mentioned before, there wasn’t a moment when I was bitter and waiting for something good to happen, because everything was just impending and not doubtful. Lily had ‘moved on’ with just herself and Eric merely has to find the one who loved her, because that’s pretty much the only part of him that can love. Everything’s alright once he lays his hand on that version of him, love lights the rest. This is the kind of film that incessantly keeps one in good spirits because that’s exactly what it is: A depiction of a life that’s full of love and acts of love and I think you’ve just got to face it – Love’s fun.