Looking for Eric and finding an existential game

Director Ken Loach. Photo: supplied.

Looking for Eric (2009), directed by Ken Loach, follows the redemption story of middle-aged and initially washed-up Eric Bishop. We meet Eric in the midst of an existential crisis as his unresolved feelings about his life bubble up and disturb his impotent stupor. He conjures up Eric “The King” Cantona, legendary footballer, as a coping mechanism — a life coach of sorts.

Eric is the typical disheartened underdog, but he eventually develops a game plan (after an endearingly cheesy training montage) to turn his life around.

The film highlights football as a portal of escape that people, particularly men, use to calm their anxieties about work and interpersonal relationships. Eric finds community in a football brotherhood with his colleagues, who support him when his step-sons get mixed up with dangerous local gangsters.

Eric undergoes a complete transformation and finds himself, but the technical aspects of the film fail to keep up with his character development. The film is stark and the viewer’s senses are left considerably unstimulated. There is no score and the visual palette of monotonous grey subdues whatever vividness the characters or plot has to offer.

Looking for Eric is showing again on 9 July at 8pm at Monument.

By Ayanda Gigaba