The Ken Loach film Looking for Eric (I keep calling it ‘Finding Eric’ in conversations with friends, after Finding Nemo) is the best film I’ve watched in a long time. It’s about a downtrodden postman living in Manchester called Eric who idolises Eric Cantona. Eric (the postman) reaches a crisis point in his life and only comes through it by taking advice from the great man himself, who appears to Eric in dope-induced visions in his bedroom.
Many things make it brilliant: it is, in many places, very very bleak and even brutal (the way Eric’s feckless sons treat him, the pity with which Eric’s friends at work watch him suffer), which makes the joy in the film so much more uplifting. This is wondrous hope coming to a man most in need of it. It also includes the best summing up of the reasons for watching football: Eric (the postman) talks about how it’s only at football matches you can shout and swear and not care what anyone thinks. It’s one of the few places where you can be a man amongst men.
I was slightly surprised to find that critics (Guardian critics, at least) didn’t think it quite as great as I did. Peter Bradshaw gave it three stars although he’s a miserly star-giver at the best of times and, let’s face it, I can’t imagine he’s much of a football fan. Empire went for four, although the review itself is a bit lacking in detail (it does, however, call the film “perhaps, the best film about football there’s ever been”).