Although I have been getting into Ken Loach’s movies, I have never been much of a soccer fan, or a fan of any sport for that matter, and so I was not so sure that I wanted to see Looking for Eric. It has also been heavily advertised here in Japan as Loach’s first movie with a happy ending, which also made me have doubts.
Although there is a lot of soccer, and soccer fans here, this works well as a movie as it was able to be engaging and moving for me, someone who couldn’t care less about sports. There are two Erics in the film, the first is a sad sack divorced postal worker who has three kids by three different women, one of which has a child of her own and two of which laze around home, completely disregard their father, and get mixed up with local small-time gangsters. He was not always such a wreck, as he was a prize-winning dancer when he was young, and had a good relationship with his first wife while it lasted. He gets out of his rut with the help of an imaginary friend, former Manchester United star Eric Cantona (who I didn’t know before seeing this film). The famous Eric gives the lesser known one advice on winning back the woman of his dreams and getting his kids out of trouble. The former soccer player has an obviously likeable personality and can handle the little bit of acting that he is required to do. But he French accent is so strong that when he says he proverbs in English and repeats them in French, I had a hard time understand which language he was speaking when. Between that and the very heavy Manchester accent of one of Eric’s postal work mates named Meatballs, I had a hard time understand parts of this. Nevertheless, the film tries hard to be uplifting and is, but never in a way that makes you feel manipulated.