Unlike Land and Freedom or The Wind that Shakes the Barley, the latest Ken Loach film Looking for Eric is not an ‘in your face’ political movie. Nevertheless socialist values – the power of truth and collectivism over lies and individualism – shine throughout this wonderful tale.
It is the story of the eventual redemption or reclaiming of a decent and happy life by a working class, middle aged Manchester man. Eric, a postman, has left his wife after previously walking out on the mother of his child. He lives in a chaotic house with his two semi-lumpen stepsons.
His only real happiness seems to be at work where his mates offer him unconditional and non-judgemental comradeship and support. However, he does have an unreal happiness, which comes to life at night when he smokes a joint. His all time soccer hero, Eric Cantona (Manchester United captain and legend from the 1990s and – in real life – an anarchist and friend of Ken Loach), comes to life in his bedroom and offers him blunt albeit poetic advice to break out of the sad cycle his life is trapped in.
These often hilarious scenes are interspersed with fantastic footage of Cantona’s magic moments, of which there were plenty. A crossroads for Eric (the postman) is reached when one of his stepsons gets caught up with a vicious drug lord. Eric decides to rise to the occasion and support his son. An initial attempt to force the dealer to back off fails dismally, but through collective action he wins the day.
This story is integrated with a parallel and beautiful tale of his gradual reconciliation with the mother of his son. At root a basic love story, this latest Ken Loach offering is a funny and compassionate story that never betrays core socialist values. Even the rightwing media are giving it 4 or 5 stars and this is justly deserved.
Reviewed by Stephen Jolly
Looking for Eric
Directed by Ken Loach
Written by Paul Laverty
Cannes Festival, Official Selection Competition
Now on release throughout Australia