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Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Looking For Eric




Alrighty folks, here we have on our hands the new Ken Loach film Looking For Eric. For starters, Ken Loach is a good film-maker. His tales of social realism and humanity such as Kes and The Wind That Shakes The Barley are a breath of fresh air in the midst of ludicrously massive blockbusters which attempt to dominate our filmgoing habits. I'm going to lie, I do find his message to be true and righteous and I feel that he one of the great commentators on the condition of the working class. So, being a new Ken Loach film, it has its obvious hype. However, the real hype of the film is coming from the presence of one Eric Cantona, playing himself. Eric Bishop, played former The Fall bassist Steve Evets, is a postman facing a mid-life crisis. Juggling the caring for his grand-daughter, his job as a postman, and his two stepsons, Eric no longer has time for his only method of escapism, football. However, following numerous attempts by his friends to help motivate him, he begins to receive advice to change his life for the better in none other than his footballing hero Eric Cantona. Now, to start with the good about the film, the acting is excellent. Steve Evets really holds the film together in an absolutely wonderful performance as Eric Bishop. He is able to portray the three-dimensional nature of the character with all his positives and flaws with adept ability. Also, he adds a very human face to this tale, which is in many respects a fairy tale set in the grime of working-class England. Throughout the course of the film, Eric Bishop goes through numerous changes as a human being, and as such Evets must portray this change. Like any human that goes through life-changing events, Evets portrays Bishop as a changed person for the better, but remaining fundamentally the same person. I thought that this was an absolutely wonderful performance from Evets, and he is certainly on my shortlist for Best Actor at the year-end awards. Eric Cantona, although he is in a way playing an exaggerated version of his philosophically-minded self, portrays the conscience of Eric Bishop brilliantly. Being a figment of Eric Bishop's imagination, he reflects the superhero persona that Bishop has created of him. He is an inspirational figure who brings good words and advice to Bishop. Cantona portrays this character with suitable gusto, moving from moments of inspiration to down-to-earth humour often within short spaces of time. This also brings me to the script. Ken Loach's recent screenwriting muse, Paul Laverty, has a clear understanding of the human mind and the working class. The dialogue in the film is fast, edgy, very witty and humorous, but also at the right moments it can be very poignant. Also, structurally the film holds well together, showing the progression of Eric Bishop's character, and as he discovers (as do we) more about his life, we come to find out just how much in need of advice and how disconnected from those closest to him he really was. The best thing about the script of Looking For Eric is the fact that it is so concise. All of the excess flab is cut away, leaving all that is necessary for it to be a good film. Loach directs the film in a similar manner. Having collaborated on numerous occasions before, Loach films the script excellently. Also, he is also very used to directing films, particularly those about the working class. He has a style that is comparable with Clint Eastwood, in that he is so good at directing in his comfort zone that it seems as though it is effortless. Finally, the real enjoyment of Looking For Eric is the fact that the film has a beating heart. This really is a wonderfully human tale, speaking brilliantly not just on the working class condition, although that is where the message would resonate most, but to all people, that everyone can change their life for the better. Also, it is not too preachy a message; it is one of a universal nature, and makes Looking For Eric a very relatable and understandable film. Now, the only thing about the film is that I do not think that it is on a masterpiece level, but certainly it is a very great film, and really is the judging stick this year on the borderline between masterpiece and really great film.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 8.9/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Overjoyed


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