The veteran social realist director talks about his lighter-than-usual film that plays on the legend of the former Manchester United midfielder Eric Cantona, along with star Steve Evets.
For over forty years British director Ken Loach has been crafting film and television drama that puts the spotlight on pressing social issues. His latest work, Looking For Eric, finds him in unusually light-hearted mood although this story of a football-obsessed postman (Steve Evets) on the verge of a nervous breakdown also deals with the recent proliferation of violent teenage gangs. Manchester United's favourite son, Eric Cantona, is the man who steps up to help the beleaguered postie, also named Eric, when his step-sons are roped into this culture of drugs and violence (albeit appearing through a haze of pot smoke...)
Steve Evets as Manchester United-supporting postman Eric.
In a trippy turn of real-life events, it was Cantona who made the call to Loach with an idea about a crazed fan whose life falls apart as his obsession grows, but this would only be the springboard for a much deeper examination of the way community spirit helps one man overcome his personal hardships. Loach teamed up with frequent collaborators, writer Paul Laverty and producer Rebecca O'Brien, and developed the story to that end. Cantona would of course play himself, but it was important to the director that the rest of the cast be genuine Mancunians. Steve Evets (recently seen in Summer) fit the bill and was also praised by Loach for what he calls his ability to be "funny, but not in a way that he's playing comedy."
Looking For Eric is released nationwide in UK cinemas on Friday 12th June 2009
Interview: Stella Papamichael; Video: Stephen Bailey Published 12th June 09