Looking for Eric is an underdog movie from Ken Loach about football, Manchester, the post office and French football legend Eric Cantona. A post office worker named Eric Bishop, played by Steve Evets, suffers a nervous breakdown and tries to reclaim his sense of self with the help of philosophical football hero, Eric Cantona. Eric attempts to reconnect with an old flame, get his boys on the straight-and-narrow and win back his self-esteem with the guidance of Cantona, who appears to him after participating in a self-help exercise with his mates.
Loach's low budget kitchen-sink drama deals with crime, a passion for football and working class living in Manchester, England. The story centres on a typical semi-detached home on a typical city street as a father grapples with his son’s predicament with a local drug dealer and tries to reconnect with the love of his life. The hard-living, bad language, modest lifestyle and pub culture create a taut atmosphere where drug lords rule the streets.
The cast’s performances are naturalistic and totally convincing, as though they had been cast to play themselves. Steve Evets embodies Eric Bishop like a second skin, although his thick accent and mumbling made Cantona sound even more English. Cantona stars as himself and brings his gutsy personality and no-bullsh**t attitude to life on the screen.
Looking for Eric would be a satisfactory drama even without the powerful presence of Eric Cantona, but his addition gives the film a new dimension with a little Cantona magic. The film isn't specifically about football, but soccer fans will be pleased to see the odd highlight from the man's career. Cantona is a figurehead for self-confidence and channeled rage just a few soccer balls short of primitive chest-beating. Eric needs the inspiration and role model of Cantona to reinforce his skinny physique and take life by the proverbial soccer balls.
Looking for Eric is a heartwarming, coming-of-age comedy sports drama that portrays city-living from an average bloke’s perspective. He starts to play the game of life with more confidence, making the right calls and taking calculated risks to improve his circumstances just like Cantona. This shift in attitude is what makes the whole experience uplifting like Billy Elliot, where a downtrodden soul takes heart and answers the call to action. It's the sort of film that would have benefited from English subtitles, but retains a little low-brow authenticity without them.
The bottom line: Spirited.