Eric Bishop, a postman and vehement Manchester United fan, feels stuck in his life. With a failed marriage under his belt, he is left in a continuing spat with ex-wife Lily, and disrespectful stepson Ryan causes further difficulties by taking care of a gun for a local gangster. At the end of his tether, he helps himself to Ryan’s supply of weed and begins to hallucinate about former Man United midfielder Eric Cantona. From hereon in, Cantona becomes a frequent vision, patiently answering Bishop’s rhetorical whinging with his typically baffling philosophies. Bishop begins to take on these aphorisms in his everyday life, slowly gaining the courage to reconstruct his tattered relationship with Lily, and to stand up to the gangster intimidating Ryan.
Viewers familiar with Ken Loach’s body of work may be pleasantly surprised by what is possibly his most fun film to date. This is Loach’s love song to football – and one of its most bizarrely venerable characters – so enjoyment of the film is in some way proportionate to one’s opinion on the game, but there is still much to be admired. Cantona is a humorous presence, playing screenwriter Paul Laverty’s loving caricature with bonhomie. But the real focus here is Steve Evets, one-time bassist for The Fall, whose portrayal of the protagonist makes one wonder why the larger-than-life character hasn’t been seen much until now. One complaint would be that the tone of the film is imbalanced, but one can hardly begrudge Loach a few moments of sunshine.