The Damned United (2009)

R   |    |  Biography, Drama, Sport


The Damned United (2009) Poster

The story of the controversial Brian Clough's 44-day reign as the coach of the English football club Leeds United.

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7.6/10
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  • Mark Cameron and Stephen Graham in The Damned United (2009)
  • Michael Sheen in The Damned United (2009)
  • Colm Meaney in The Damned United (2009)
  • Colm Meaney in The Damned United (2009)
  • Michael Sheen in The Damned United (2009)
  • Michael Sheen in The Damned United (2009)

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28 March 2009 | chrismartonuk-1
9
| Not bad, young man.
The life of the egocentric one gets the big screen treatment - another feather in his cap, and one to put over Shanks, Busby, Mercer, Allison, Paisley etc. The fact he shares the spotlight with Don Revie would be his only disappointment. One may find the numerous anachronisms and inaccuracies distracting, i.e. Dave Mackay had left Derby before Clough and Taylor's resignation, and that 5-0 Leeds triumph came the year after County's championship triumph (or robbery as devout Geldard Enders would maintain) - I know, I was there that great day wallowing in revenge for the previous year's injustices.

Without resorting to caricature, Sheen effortlessly conveys Clough's rampant narcissism and hubris. His obsession with Revie is portrayed as something he needs to work out of his system before getting his life back on keel. Revie is depicted as such a cartoon villain that one is almost disappointed that he doesn't appear clad in top hat and black cloak, chuckling evilly as he twirls his moustache and ties Cloughs' two sons to the railway line. Colm Meaney is uncanny in his depiction of the Elland Road supremo and his face captures the haunted look of the man who must have felt the fates were against him at times. Spall seems physically miscast as Taylor but puts across the fact that Pete was Clough's often unheeded moral conscience - a fact illustrated by how Clough went to the bad in his later years at Forest when Taylor wasn't around. Jim Broadbent is every provincial businessman made good as Sam Longson who must have needed the patience of a saint in his latter years at Derby.

Occasionally, the script's pace works against it. Clough and Taylor have barely signed the contract with Mike Bamber when they're off to Majorca. It might have been better to have a scene or two showing their tribulations at Brighton which increased Clough's desire to snatch at the first decent offer that came his way. I still remember hearing the humiliating defeat they suffered at home to Bristol Rovers on the coach back from Elland Road on the radio - and the ensuing hysterical laughter. To think, one year later, we were laughing the other side of our faces.

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