Looking For Eric and Cast Q&A – Review – Square Chapel, Halifax
Looking For Eric and Cast Q&A – Review
Square Chapel, Halifax, May 2019
by Steve Crabtree – @stevecrab
The Up North Film and Television festival at Square Chapel in Halifax has brought some brilliant people and incredible things to the town. It’s no surprise that the popularity of this place is booming, and the screening of Looking For Eric, complete with a cast members’ after-show Q&A delivered another very special evening.
Looking For Eric is a 2009 film by Ken Loach about Manchester postman Eric Bishop (Steve Evets). Football fanatic Eric’s life is in turmoil, with his unruly step kids getting in with the wrong crowd, and the fall out of that affecting Eric’s life and mind. He has his own personal problems too. He regrets leaving his true love Lily, and his indulgence in his step children’s stash of weed doesn’t help his moments of sadness and depression. But every now and again the fanatical football supporter turns to one of his heroes for a spot of life-coaching. Eric Cantona.
His friends at the sorting office where he works care too, and lend themselves in numbers for support, and there’s a comedic element twisted in to an earthy film that carries some important messages.
It was perhaps my fifth time of watching Looking For Eric, but my first time in an audience. Especially one with Steve Evets in attendance, and his screen wife Stephanie Bishop in to watch it with us.
“Years ahead of its time”
It’s an intimate cinema experience at the Square Chapel with a brilliant screen and sound quality; and coming here means more than going to see something at a multiscreen cinema complex. The experience is more memorable. In the audience we had Manchester United fans (for the Cantona aspect), and we had Ken Loach fans in too. There were people who hadn’t seen the film at all, but know that the Square Chapel presents some brilliant evenings at its arts centre, and tonight was no exception
Unfortunately, Eric Cantona didn’t follow the trawler to Halifax, but the lead Steve Evets and Stephanie Bishop were here to see the film, along with their friends and family.
For me, Looking For Eric was a piece of film ten years ahead of its time. In today’s society the awareness of support in mental health, especially in men is getting stronger. #itsokaytotalk is a widely recognised hashtag and statement, and a noticeable sub plot to the film. But the important role of his friends at work and the love, help and interaction they shower him with is rough and ready and it’s what he needs.
For me there’s no better time to re-release this film. I think it could be an important one for society.
“A compelling listen”
But it wasn’t just the film we were all here to see. With all tickets sold for the Looking For Eric screening, we were treated to a funny, intriguing and interesting Q&A session with Evets and Bishop, which brought a lot of laughter and a lot of eye-openers.
Hosting the Q&A was Ian Puleston-Davies, who comperes just as well as he acts. You’ll have seen him in Coronation Street and I’m Alan Partridge, and he’s a patron for the Square Chapel. The perfect choice to play compere, and an absolute gent to boot.
Evets is hilarious. His anecdotes and stories were a joy to listen to, and hearing how Mark E. Smith drafted him in to The Fall as bass player is quite a story. For him Ken Loach is a bigger legend than Eric Cantona, and his explanation as to why had even the most die-hard of Manchester United fans in the audience nodding in either agreement or opinion-acceptance at the very least!
Hearing his and Stephanie’s insight in to the film, and how Loach directs and surprises his actors was a compelling listen. We’d gone from watching a great movie to something after-dinner-speaker like, and everyone found that as gripping and entertaining as the film.
We were also lucky enough to have TV and Film actor and director Reece Dinsdale in the audience. A very genuine and charming man, he contributed to the conversation so us who’d come to enjoy the evening were in fantastic company. Unsurprisingly, he and Puleston-Davies had time for everyone after the film.
The Square chapel is a lovely social space whether you’re going to see a film, play or talk or more. We stayed behind for a couple of drinks, and so did the stars of the evening who were happy to talk, shake hands and proved themselves to be great people. Everyone who’d come to see Looking For Eric had a great night.
Here’s to the next batch of brilliant things the Square Chapel Arts Centre are due to give the people of the Calder Valley and beyond.