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Steve Evets
Stephanie Bishop
Gerard Kearns
John Henshaw
Eric Cantona.
Ken Loach.
Paul Laverty.
Running Time
116 minutes

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Looking for Eric
The boy Loach buries it in the top corner

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Postman Eric Bishop (Evets) unravels when circumstances force him to make contact with the wife (Bishop) he left 30 years before. He takes solace in the unexpected form of legendary footballer Eric Cantona, who mysteriously appears to offer advice...

Looking for Eric
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If you are 12, or drunk, or have a Michael Caine fixation, Escape To Victory is a good film. It’s got Pelé in it. And Bobby Moore. And Rocky in goal. And only one tiny — microscopic, really — flaw: it’s rubbish. Football can’t be contained by film: it’s about magic and moments, those vital instants that make you forget everything and everyone — and all the pain, fear and confusion — and focus on the game. It’s only a game, football-haters haughtily insist. We know it’s only a game. That’s why we love it. We know it does not matter. That’s why we love it. We know it’s 90 minutes of 22 men kicking a leather orb around. THAT’S WHY WE LOVE IT. Football is a divine distraction — like, at its best, church or cinema. And King Eric, as the Old Trafford faithful still call him, is a footballing god: an idol to millions, mysterious and unknowable and sometimes bewildering (“When the seagulls follow the trawler, it’s because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea”). And here he is, playing himself, in a comedy directed by leftie legend Ken Loach. Bloody football, as Sir Alex Ferguson might say.

Looking For Eric, then, is a surprise. It’s not that Loach-lovers don’t know of his affection for football, but no-one could have predicted this pairing — nor how funny and affecting the final film would be. Since trading soccer for the silver screen, Cantona hasn’t disgraced himself, but nor has he escaped his on-field success. He never will, really. But while many ex-players resent their past peak, here he embraces his cult and has fun with it — Cantona, it seems, is a man at peace with himself. And he has a sense of humour, allowing Evets to improv abuse about his philosophical leanings (that cryptic sardines comment comes in for a grilling) and fondly mocking his own transcendent status (“I am not a man... I am Cantona”).

So, King Eric reigns on screen, too, then — but what makes Looking For Eric so special, what makes it, perhaps, the best film about football there’s ever been, is that it doesn’t try to fictionalise on-pitch glories; it is instead about how we feel about the beautiful game. The only football is real clips of Cantona in action, and while these will trigger tingles in anyone who has screamed in joy or despair at football, they don’t confine the film to only footy fans. Because Cantona here represents something beyond himself — he represents hope. And everyone, you hope, has clung to something beyond themselves to get them through troubled times. Looking For Eric, yes, is about Cantona in part, but it’s also about Eric Bishop, a beaten-down bloke trying to find salvation — a man drowning, not waving, in a sea of regrets. Evets is magnificent — face punctured by pain, but still raising grins through a grimace — and his friendship with fellow postman Meatballs (Henshaw) is as involving, in its way, as his attempts to rekindle a relationship with his long-neglected ex-wife (Bishop). Looking For Eric is, in its Loachian way, a romantic comedy, but it’s really about all kinds of love. As Cantona says, “You have to trust your teammates. Always. Otherwise, you are lost.”

Play It Again, Eric... Ken Loach perfectly captures the feeling of football and the need for hope. Touching and hilarious — a blinder.

Reviewed by Nev Pierce

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Looking for Eric
Empire Star Rating

Looking for Eric

My view isn't that it's a film about football (although football does play a very important part...obviously), it's a film about life and it's ups and downs and ultimatley it's your friends and family who are the most important things in life. I am not a football fan. Never have been never will be, hence why i have an account with Empire, however although the first act is a low 4 star film, the final half only for it's sheer audacity and halariously brilliant conclusion the film deserves a five ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Blue Ryan at 17:37, 12 April 2010 | Report This Post

Looking for Eric

My view isn't that it's a film about football (although football does play a very important part...obviously), it's a film about life and it's ups and downs and ultimatley it's your friends and family who are the most important things in life. I am not a football fan. Never have been never will be, hence why i have an account with Empire, however although the first act is a low 4 star film, the final half only for it's sheer audacity and halariously brilliant conclusion the film deserves a five ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Blue Ryan at 17:37, 12 April 2010 | Report This Post

ooh aah...

A Ken Loach drama with a football theme. Cantona appears as a sort of angel/ghost/or just as his enigmatic, mysterious self to a suicidal postie, also called Eric (played brilliantly by Evetts, the real star of the film) who has just had a nervous breakdown. He helps him get his relationship with his kids and ex-wife back on track. There's plenty of humour, and the finale is a gem. Also, Loach can't resist showing some career highlights from the Frenchman, ingeniously encorporating how a su... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by gzus at 21:35, 15 November 2009 | Report This Post

Very Enjoyable

Really good movie. Great acting and at last, a British movie with believable dialogue and characters where everyone isn't called mumbles, snoopy, bricktop or 1-2-3 Lags a bit in the middle but the denouement is just fantastic. Don't think I've seen an audience laugh so much as in that final scene ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by johncarrelson at 17:16, 19 June 2009 | Report This Post

RE: Looking for Eric

Saw it last night and thought it was a gem of a film, good plot, characters, and the stock footage of Cantona was used perfectly. Cantona pearls of wisdom to the films eric are priceless and the ending is good in a hilarious way. I'd advise all united fans to see the film with a great balance of comedy and drama from the legend that is King Eric. And the guy who played Meatballs has a great laught too just watch the film and you'll find out why! And i'm glad the "When se... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by David Dvd 1988 at 14:55, 18 June 2009 | Report This Post

If it were a Nuts review...

I find this to be a brilliant review. I could quite possibly say I hate football, but I very much enjoyed the film. If this were a Nuts review, as jameswhaleofatime said, it would read like this: Cantona is a god, he is the best actor ever, and he is a god, He is the best thing is this film, and he is a god. Fuck, I love Cantona, I think of him when I shag my wife, he is a god. Tits, Football, Cars, Tits, Cantona. He is a god. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by crazymoviesdude at 21:21, 10 June 2009 | Report This Post

go on my son! get in the there! the referees a wankah! grunt, grunt. etc

jesus Nev, football fan at all? I've long since ceased to expect quality film journalism from Empire, but this reads like a review from Nuts magazine. The beautiful game indeed.. this is Empire not Match! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jameswhaleofatime at 13:21, 10 June 2009 | Report This Post

Good stuff - and not just for fotball fans

Please check out: ng-for-eric-2009-dir-ken-loach/ ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by stuffit at 17:42, 09 June 2009 | Report This Post

Very good Film..... Terrible Review

What a terrible review! Only 1 paragraph of the review actually has any reference to the film itself! come on empire.... get off your high horse and stop telling us the history of football and please stick with the film reviews. I saw this yesterday at an advanced screening and had the pleasure of Ken Loach doing an (un advertised) Q&A afterwards. The movie is Funny and Moving in equal measures. The principle cast is brilliant with all flowing and bantering so well it feels like you are i... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Hulkwarriors at 17:00, 08 June 2009 | Report This Post


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