It all began with a beautiful pass from Eric Cantona...
Those are the words that appear early on in Looking for Eric as Eric Bishop (Steve Evets) wakes up in hospital after crashing his car following some spectacularly bad driving. That's bad driving as in - driving round and round the same roundabout... the wrong way.
Yes, Eric is a man who is past his best in life. None of his kids or step-kids have any respect for him, generally because he lets them down on a regular basis and you get the impression this has been happening all his life. By rights, the house shouldn't be as busy as it is, but his wife left him two years ago and for some reason they're still there. He's a huge Manchester United fan and idolises icon footballer Eric Cantona, even to the point where he'll talk to him as if he's there. Sometimes, he even gets a response.
He also likes to live in the past and dream of happier times such as when he used to see the man play. In his first conversation with Cantona, he's reminiscing about the love of his life, Lily (Stephanie Bishop), who he met at a '50s dance competition thirty years ago, and who became his wife, but that relationship is long since over and he's about to have to meet her on a regular basis, thanks to babysitting for Daisy, daughter to his own daughter, Sam (Lucy-Jo Hudson). Turns out that it was the mere thought of having to see her, as well as some choice words of hers, passed on to him via Sam, which threw him, mentally, and led to his car crash.
By day, almost - given the early starts, he works for the Royal Mail, alongside John Henshaw and the cream of Manchester's comedy talent including Mick Ferry, Justin Moorhouse and Des Sharples. The cast also includes Gerard Kearns (Shameless) as one of his sons, Ryan.
There are so many great moments in this film, including early on when Eric goes to wake up his step-son, Jess (Stefan Gumbs), even though he's meant to be in school and it's now 2pm. As he stumbles across two other lads sleeping on the floor, he exclaims that "it's not a doss house" and when one of them asks him, "Who the hell are you?", he bashes him with a pillow and says, "I'll tell you who the hell I am. I'm room service! Do you wish to register a complaint(?)"
Looking for Eric is essentially a tale of regret for our anti-hero, but also redemption as he tries to put right what has previously gone wrong in his life. Guidance from Cantona is the only thing that can help. I do realise that that makes it sound like such a predictable and pedestrian film but it's not meant to. It's actually a bloody good film which, frequently, really speaks to anyone who's had times in their life which they wish they could change or try to put right now - which is basically everyone.
At this point I'll mention that I'm not in any way a fan of football these days (I am a massive fan of snooker, though, so I can understand the passion for a sport). I went to see a few Man Utd games when I was a kid and I enjoyed it at the time, but it wasn't something I got into long-term, so I'm not aware of the games being discussed when Eric talks about Cantona's greatest moments, but I can appreciate the personality the man had and how much of an impression he made on culture in general, not least for his scissor-kick...
Overall, if you enjoy a film with a great, well-written, story, plus direction and acting from the leads to match, as well as top-notch support, Looking For Eric is for you. It's also one of those few films which you can feel yourself enjoying more and more as you watch it.
The film is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and looks as highly detailed as you'd expect a high-definition picture to look, the grim outdoor scenes making you wonder if a particular tint has been applied or... perhaps that's just Manchester in general. Anyway, it's crisp and clean, except for a slight haziness to the image that can be seen against dark colours and very occasionally there's a slight shimmering on the image, and while it's not quite as bad as Optimum's recent Luc Besson Blu-ray releases, it's certainly verging on it. For the record, I'm watching on a Panasonic 37" Plasma screen with a Samsung BDP1500 player.
The sound comes in Dolby TrueHD, DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 formats, plus a PCM stereo one if you haven't got any form of Dolby Digital/DTS equipment. I haven't got a Dolby TrueHD setup, which allows for a 7.1 surround speaker setup, but then I haven't got the room for that either, so DTS 5.1 will do nicely, sir. However, the audio within is mostly for dialogue and ambience and this isn't a special FX film so there's no complaints and it isn't a demo disc, either.
The extras include a football-related documentary, an unrelated short film with Bradley Walsh, music video, a short film by Ken Loach called "Short City" about Bath's football club, deleted scenes and more.
There's a pitiful number of chapters with 12. There should be plenty more - I always go by the rule of thumb of one every five minutes plus one each for opening and closing credits; subtitles are in English only and the menu features some animation of a footballer warming up to the theme music.