a review by the Brown-necked Raven and the Crow.
Editor’s note: Since this is our newest member’s first post for The Corvid Review, we’ll somewhat be altering our usual review format to accomodate him.
Everyone, welcome the Brown-necked Raven!
LOOKING FOR ERIC | THE BROWN-NECKED RAVEN
It all started with a beautiful pass
Hello, everyone! This is my first post for The Corvid Review. Many thanks to the Crow for having me here.
Football has a way of bringing people together. While it might be good old “groupism” at work here, it provides a form of support for many: the multitude of people whose lives are dull and without hope.
Come match day and they revel in the fate of their teams. Many get drunk and sing football songs. And for a moment, the world seems an alright place. Maybe that is why football is called the beautiful game.
Directed by Ken Loach, and released in 2009, Looking for Eric captures this idea in a touching manner.
WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS VERY-MINOR SPOILERS
The movie opens with a man, Eric Bishop (Steve Evets), driving erratically and crashing his car. After being released from the hospital, he comes home to find his house a mess. His two stepsons look through him and we soon discover that he suffers from anxiety and depression.
To help him, his friends organize a meditation session in which they all must look at themselves through the eyes of someone they admire. He chooses to be one of the best forwards in football history: Eric Cantona (played in the movie by the legend himself).
He admires the King’s confidence, his strut, and his skill. Later that day, as he is smoking pot, Eric Cantona himself appears in front of him. Over time, he finds a mentor in the King and slowly gets his life into order. While this process of recovery happens, we find out about his first wife, Lily Bishop (Stephanie Bishop).
Years ago, he left Lily with their daughter, at the beginning of their marriage, following a panic attack. The King helps him try to get her back. Meanwhile, his stepson, Ryan (Gerard Kearns) gets into trouble because of his association with local criminals.
There are many points of interest in this movie: The first, and most important, being depression. There are millions who are affected by it, unfortunately, many going undiagnosed. Unlike most diseases, depression is a lifelong issue. Apart from the medicines, the patient requires support from family and friends.
Eric’s life is destroyed by it and coupled with his panic attacks, he becomes suicidal at one point. Steve Evets does a brilliant job in portraying this sense of hopelessness. His character development is heartening to see, as he goes from a broken man to become someone who is slowly regaining control of his life. The audience feels compelled to root for Eric.
Related to the first point, a close second is the value of friendship. Throughout the movie, we see heartwarming scenes of Eric being helped by his friends. In one scene, they take turns in telling him jokes since laughter helps with depression. In another scene, they organise the meditation session. No matter the situation, they stick by his side. In the words of the King himself: “Always trust your teammates”.
The third point is Lily Bishop: When Eric leaves her, she breaks down. She struggles as a single mother. Later, she finds the will to not just survive, but also lead a happy life. She visits little bed and breakfast places (always a new one). This is heartening to see and a good reminder to everyone that no matter how bad it might seem now, it too shall pass.
Director, Ken Loach has always been motivated by social issues. He is interested in telling the story of the common man. It is hence, no surprise that he chooses to direct this movie. “Looking for Eric” not only encapsulates the issues of depression, and heartbreak, but captures the magic of match day; what football means to the common fan. On the surface, it might seem like a feel good movie but the more one analyses the movie, the more one realizes that each character is almost a personification of different types of characters one meets in a lower-middle-class British society. The single mother raising a child with great difficulty, the deadbeat father with multiple issues, the useless step sons who have no plans for their future, and fans getting together in the pub for a drink.
From a technical perspective, this camera work is decent. The sound and various other aspects get the job done.
It is unfortunate that this movie did not do well all from a financial perspective. It might be that rival fans of Manchester United (a team for which Cantona played for and made a name for himself) did not like it. This movie is not about Manchester United or even Eric Cantona. It is about football and if one thinks about the title again, looking for the Eric Cantona inside us. An idealized version of ourselves, confident, commanding, at the top of our game.
I promised my fellow Manchester United supporter, the Crow, that I would leave some lines for him. But before I do that:
THE BROWN-NECKED RAVEN: 8/10
LOOKING FOR ERIC | THE CROW
We’ll drink a drink, a drink, a drink
To Eric the King, the King, the King!
So, the secret’s out: I’m a Manchester United supporter.
Not that it was a secret. I’m the kind who pulls on the shirt on matchdays (under my ‘work clothes’, if I have to).
I won’t go on long, because this was a movie I would’ve handled myself had our newest team member not picked it up before I did. But I just want to speak about the King a little.
The King, you ask? I mean King Eric Cantona. The greatest centre-forward, that the world has ever seen.
I was a tiny tot when, just under a month from my birthday, my mum took my to watch my first-ever football game. And what game was that, you might wonder?
It was the 1994 FA Cup Final. A brutal 0-4 destruction of Chelsea (who’ve since gone on to become a formidable foe). Before the game, my mum asked me which team I liked better. I liked red, so I picked the red team, and as stated in Looking for Eric:
You can change your wife, your politics, your religion, but never, never can you change your favorite football team
…and I’m pretty sure that’s a quote by the King himself.
Once you pick, that’s it. Done. Dusted. And while we haven’t had anything but mad success in the years since, we’ve been going through a blip lately (if it could be called that). But I – as is the case with our newest team member – have never, ever even dreamt of not supporting the team.
But, that said, at the heart of that sudden surge in success around that time? One can never speak of it without mentioning King Eric Cantona. He was on the pitch that day I first saw football. And he was the one who caught my eye the most. To me, there’ll never be another like him.
I rewatched Looking for Eric only recently with the Azure-Winged Magpie. Maybe I’m speaking as a fan, but this movie, in her words: “dehydrates” me.
So let’s just quickly go over my thoughts on this movie:
THIS SECTION CONTAINS NO SPOILERS
Looking for Eric is a touching movie about the lives of lower-middle class families in the UK that are helmed by kids who weren’t ready for it at the time. I know quite a few families like this, families where the parent(s) are struggling to get by, making up things as they go along, because they haven’t grown up right themselves (and let’s face it, all grown-ups are kids just doing their best to get by until they hit whatever it is ‘old age’ is).
It’s a vicious cycle, one that has unfortunately become the norm in this nation (and so many others). To anyone who knows a family even close to the one our protagonist postman-Eric has, this is a movie that’ll resonate with you.
Ken Loach and his team paint a wondrous picture of depression, broken families, and the dangers that come from letting your kids (in this case: stepsons) drift away from you.
And top all of that, it throws in the heartbreak which comes from the departure of the ‘one’. It’s a marvellously-crafted movie which deserves every ounce of praise it gets.
This is our newest member’s very post on The Corvid Review, after all, so I won’t clog it up too much. Maybe, someday, I’ll explain what the King meant by that line about “Seagulls”, “sardines”, and “trawlers” (it wasn’t meaningless at all, and it’s quite simple, actually).
(And as a final side-note: we play Chelsea Sunday. A lot of things tie into Sunday for me, and although we’re not perfect yet, I want us to give them hell.)
THE BROWN-NECKED RAVEN: 8/10
THE CROW: 8.5/10
Here’s one of the official posters for Looking for Eric: