Looking for Eric

I had trepidations about going to see Looking for Eric, the latest film from Ken Loach. The trailer makes it look like one of those “feel good” movies. Usually, “feel good” movies make me want to slash my wrists. However, since I”ve always liked Loach’s work, I decided to give it a try. It turned out to be better than the trailer made it look. (It’s not often you can say that about a film.) It also turned out to be a “feel good” movie after all, but this was one that actually did make me feel good.

The film tells the story of Eric Bishop (Steve Evets), who works as a postman. Eric feels dissatisfied with his life and alienated from his children and from his ex-wife. He contemplates committing suicide. One day, while he’s stoned, his hero, the footballer, Eric Catona (playing himself), appears before him. Catona begins giving him advice on how to deal with his problems. His advice is especially needed when Eric’s son, Ryan, becomes involved with a gangster. The latter makes Ryan hide a gun that he uses for crimes. When Eric tries to make the gangster take the gun back, the latter sets his dog on him. The police raid Eric’s apartment looking for the gun, but they fail to find it. Catona advises Eric to tell his co-workers about his problem, saying “you must trust your teammates.”

Looking for Eric celebrates the idea that people can help one another with their problems. This is a notion that has become intellectually unfashionable in this age of neoliberalism. My only problem with the film is that it’s never really made clear why the gangster makes Ryan keep his gun, especially since the gangster looks rich enough to own an arsenal. I suppose, however, that it’s churlish to nitpick with a film that gave me so much pleasure.

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