Sunday, 8 November 2009

Things we noticed watching tv this week 32

I don't like Ken Loach. No wait. Let me revise that. I don't like certain elements of his politics. I've never met him so I'm sure he's a very nice man. But seemingly unlike the man himself, I can separate politics from art. And whilst I don't much care for all the grim kitchen sink stuff, films such as The Wind That Shakes the Barley and My Name is Joe, (surely a masterpiece,) have both influenced scripts that I've written. (Having said all that, the screenwriter in me bristles at the term a Ken Loach film, disrespectful as it is to the enormous talents of Paul Laverty.)

Although there has been plenty of humour in their previous collaborations, their latest film, Looking for Eric, is the most upbeat yet. The protagonist, Eric Bishop, is a man who is lost. His life has taken a seemingly irreversible downward spiral. Even in this haze, one standout, hilarious scene features Eric and his other Mancunian mates trying some psycho babble self help. They encourage each other to think of someone they love and admire, and look at life through their eyes. Suggestions range from Frank Sinatra, Nelson Mandela and Fidel Castro. But for Eric, there is only one. Manchester United legend Eric Cantona.

Of course, I would've called the movie Looking for Bergkamp. But footballing preferences aside, the film works very well as an example of what we were talking about last time - i.e. movie characterisation.

Ostensibly about real, 'normal' people who are in fact anything but, nobody pulls off this delicate balance better than Paul Laverty. It still gets gritty at times, and some key moments to propel the story into the final act were a bit of a stretch. But its heartwarming, if slightly improbable finale, demonstrates that a naturalistic, realistic, dramatic tone and characterisation, doesn't necessarily have to lead to a downbeat ending - even in a British film!

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