Tuesday, 30 June 2009
Directed by Ken Loach
Written by Paul Laverty
Starring Eric Cantona, Steve Evets
Release date(s) 12th June 2009
Running time 116 minutes
The latest hit to come out of Cannes this summer has just arrived in our cinemas. Looking for Eric is a film with a premise that could either be the best ever, or the absolute worst ever. No, it's the best ever.
The plot sees Eric Bishop, portrayed with nuance and sensitivity by Steve Evets in his most challenging role yet, on the verge of a nervous breakdown as his life collapses around him. He then receives life lessons and wisdom from the one and only batshit crazy philosopher and ex-footballer Eric Cantona, played by himself. This is what I knew going into the film, and it was hard to see how they could take an undeniably awesome idea and make it into a real film, but fortunately they pulled it off.
First of all, this is only an imaginary Cantona, a figment of Bishop's tortured, drug addled mind. The result is a movie that is depressing and uplifting in equal amounts, though admittedly much of the depressing nature of the film could well just be my own personal reaction to the rough around the edges world these characters inhabit.
The script is tight, very tight. It is funny and touching in the right places, and carries even the more ridiculous aspects of the plot with a confidence and charm that makes it hard not to like. This is backed up by solid performances from a mostly inexperienced cast.
However, it is clear that the main talking point for this film is the presence of Eric Cantona, and indeed he is at his pretentious, philosophical best throughout this film, even though his accent can make it very difficult to make out what he's saying sometimes.
However, if I had to pick something to criticize, and I do, I would have to draw attention to issues with the plot and pacing. The main dilemma of the story doesn't even present itself until half way into the film, when the story takes a much darker and more serious tone, in stark contrast to the beginning and very end of the film, and it feels a little bit abrupt and jarring, like they came up with the whole Cantona premise and then just forced in this organized crime thing at the last minute to add a little more drama. It is also noticeable that Cantona is largely absent from this half of the film, which is a bad thing.
As such this period of the story, which is pretty much the climax of the film, ends up being somewhat less interesting and less enjoyable than the rest of the movie. Fortunately the entertaining final set piece wraps it all up nicely and the overall experience is a very positive one. If you're in the mood for a charming feel-good movie, or have any interest in Cantona or football, give this one a go.