Looking for Eric


Don’t believe a word of the hype.  Looking for Eric is not a Ken Loach comedy.  It is, in several places, a very funny film indeed.  But it is not a comedy.  At a far fetched push you might call it a rom-com or a social satire.  Me?  I just think it’s another brilliant Loachian movie. (Can you believe he’s been at it for 45, yes 45, years since he wriote three episodes for z cars)?

It’s so sad, so desperate in places and then, yes, so funny.

And then there’s Eric (Cantona).  Ooh ah!

And his goals.  Ooh la la!

And his cod (sorry sardine) philosophising. Oops ah!

The Cantona character is inspired, as it is so self-deprecating- not a quality one associates with the French.

I loved this film; so did Mrs G (I love the Cameo too, where we saw it – although the seats in Cameo 2 were so uncomfortable that I was considering asking for a refund).

God, there I go again.  Moan, moan, moan.

Why is it so good?  I think it’s the way Loach makes his characters so utterly believable and, particularly in this movie, sympathetic.  And as I always, always say it’s because of the writing which is nailed on by long time collaborator Paul Laverty).

One of the back stories, about the elder stepson of Eric the postman (our hero played to perfection by Steve Evets in, I think, his first Loach movie) is really the backbone of the film.  The eldest stepson (Gerard Kearns of Shameless fame) gets embroiled in some nasty business with a local gangland thug and threatens to destabilise Eric’s whole fragile existance.  But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and that is certainly proved here.

It’s a gem.  A true Brit movie classic with a wee bit of the Auld Alliance thrown in.

J’adore  Eric Cantona!

Engleby by Sebastian faulks

I can’t review this book without *SPOILERS* so if you don’t want to know too much about it look away now.

I think he might be a) dodgy or b) misunderstood.

I think he might be a) dodgy or b) misunderstood.

So, oh you’re still with me? Good.

I just finished this intriguing book. And quite a few people I know have read it before me so I’ve been able to gauge reaction. It is a classic game of two halves. The first half is a slightly surreal coming of age story building up the detailed circumstances that explain the second half. It’s hilarious in parts, light, page turning and quite frothy. The prevailing mood is sarcastic and details how Michael Engleby (or is it Mike, or Mike(!) or Michelle or Michael Watson or Toilet?) struggles through childhood, a crummy public school and Cambridge (for some reason unnamed until the end). Clearly he is a social misfit. Hardly surprising given the rough treatment he received from his tough dad and his uber cruel schoolmates.

At Cambridge he adopts the role of a loner, petty thief, alcoholic and junkie, quietly stalking the most popular girl in the college, Jennifer Arkland.

The book dramatically turns soon after Jennifer suddenly disappears. It doesn’t take a psychic to predict that Engleby has killed her. And, indeed, the remainder of the book gradually unravels the truth behind the events leading up to her inevitable death, the very drawn out police hunt and Engleby’s final arrest and subsequent 17 year term in a mental hospital overlooking his old school.

What makes this book so intriguing is the way that Faulks uses it as an exercise in deconstruction. This makes it quite an extreme writerly experience.

Ostensibly, Faulks tears the first half of the book apart, paragraph by paragraph to reveal what it was that turned Engleby into, as it turns out, a serial killer.

But it’s cleverer than that. He uses the deconstruction technique not only as a key plot device but also as a way to play with the notion of time, memory and, dare I say it, existentialism.

Latterly the book is no page-turner, but I found it incredibly clever. It’s open to criticism as a piece of cod philosophy and self-indulgence of course. But I’m not a philosopher so I don’t know how grown up his observations are.

At times I was inclined to think he was showing off a bit (as some say Ian McEwan did in ‘On Chesil Beach‘) but I’m not so sure.

The final page is a brilliant twist. Or is it? Nah, it isn’t. It’s just another wee bit of writerly trickery and closed the book with a resounding smirk.

Good stuff Seb.