FORMER Manchester United soccer star Eric Cantona shares a spliff and some self-help advice with a middle-aged postman down on his luck in Ken Loachâ€™s new comedy Looking for Eric.
The film, showing in the Cannes film festival, marks a light-hearted departure for Loach, a director better known for socially engaged dramas such as Itâ€™s a Free World or The Wind that Shakes the Barley, which won the top Cannes prize in 2006.
â€œWeâ€™d done a couple of films that were really quite tough, so we thought it might be nice to do a film with a smile on our faces,â€ he told a news conference after the filmâ€™s screening.
Cantona, a mercurial, brooding and inspired player during his years of glory in Manchester in the 1990s, reveals an unexpected comic touch as he takes occasional puffs on a joint and dispenses life advice to his namesake and fan Eric Bishop. Loach said Cantona, who co-produced the picture and has made a number of films since ending his playing career more than a decade ago, â€œacts like he plays football, with flair and creativityâ€.
The film plays with his image as an unpredictable genius given to gnomic pronouncements as he materialises in â€œLittle Ericâ€™sâ€ terraced house and sets about restoring the self-confidence of a man crippled by regrets about the past.
â€œI am not a man, I am Cantona,â€ he declares superbly at one point before taking out a trumpet and delivering an uncertain performance of the Marseillaise.
â€œI liked that a lot,â€ Cantona said. â€œI like to play with all that, I like to laugh at myself. Itâ€™s a weapon.â€
The film, which is in the main Cannes competition, was warmly applauded and after years of critical success, Looking for Eric may bring Loach the kind of popular hit that has so far eluded him. â€” Reuters.