The story of a depressed postman who finds encouragement from a phantom Eric Cantona (for those not in the know, a famous French soccer player) who visits him in private to buoy up his spirits, Ken Loach's new film is a "crowd-pleaser". While I myself -- preferring more intense dramas -- found it a bit too fluffy, I very much appreciated the scenes when Eric the postman bonds with his fellow postmen, who also cheers him on. My favorite scene: the postmen gather round in a den to do "cognitive therapy", a session especially valuable for poor Eric who has screwed up his domestic life, abandoning the woman he loves.
"Okay, guys, look in the mirror and imagine someone who really loves you," the ringleader barks out, wielding a mirror. Really loves you unconditionally. Look at the mirror and see how this person loves you! Come on, now! Come on!"
"Does it have to be someone real?" says one of the men -- eager, yet dumbfounded.
The Manchester accent and cognitive therapy combination is a riot.
Another great scene is the kitschy ending, where all the men team up with Eric Cantona masks and... (no plot spoiler to follow).
I asked Ken Loach -- cheerfully smiling on the terrace of the Martinez Hotel -- what he would like audience members to take away from his new film.
"That you have to believe in your friends, your teammates. No I don't believe in a God, I believe in the collectivity of people: that you are stronger as a group. I chose to make Eric a postman because I wanted a working class job for him, but I also wanted to emphasize the collective power of a team. Football is a team too. Listen to what Cantona says: "the pass is more important than the goal. The goal is an individual act, but the pass is to a colleague."
Loach continued with passion: "Thatcher tried to destroy it. She wanted us to be antagonistic towards each other: competitive. Everything became privatized, so we can screw each other. Now, we are faced with the destruction of the planet, and it is clear her way does not work. Collective thinking is what is going to help us."
As our own group of journalists disbanded, I asked Loach if he personally felt part of a group, besides his film crew.
"Of course," he said with a smile. "I am politically engaged."