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Looking for Eric 

Wednesday, May 26 2010
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What might strike American viewers as the most quizzical thing about Looking for Eric, Ken Loach's humble ode to soccer heroes and coming-of-middle-age in Manchester, is not its footie fixation but the unholy fuss kicked up by the possession of a single handgun. Hidden under the floorboards of the home of local postman Eric Bishop (Steve Evets) by one of his rotten stepsons, that gun causes a lot of problems. Add those to the list of less pressing bummers -- loneliness, crushing regret -- that writer Paul Laverty moves us through at a drifting pace. Mixing light magical realism with a more familiar brand of working-class gloom, Loach's warm, comic touch elevates the story of an aging man cracking up in plain sight. When we meet Eric, he is literally stuck in a loop: In the grip of a panic attack, he drives into a roundabout's oncoming traffic. In the aftermath of his breakdown, he revisits his first loves, soccer star Eric Cantona (who plays himself, as a figment of Eric's imagination, brilliantly) and a woman named Lily (Stephanie Bishop). It's the business with that blasted gun that forces Eric to pull himself together. Ironically -- and pretty sweetly -- it takes a village (or, in this case, several buses of soccer buddies) to raise a full-grown man.
May 28-June 3, 2010

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Michelle Orange

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