THE DAMNED UNITED


2009

DIRECTOR: Tom Hooper

Not being a football fan and admittedly, not having any real knowledge of Brian Clough as anyone more than a name associated with the sport, there was little to draw me to this film. That is except for my inherent interest in history and a liking for Michael Sheen’s ever growing repertoire of historical figures.

I was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled on to this one night. This was firstly NOT a football film, instead it was film about the slightly eccentric Clough, a man with clear passion but more over, a real sense of humanity, often allowing his ego, sometimes inflated, other times, under appreciated, to write checks that he or those around him could not cash.

But the tone of this film had a more than passing resemblance to Melville’s Moby Dick with Clough’s obsession with rival manager, Don Revie, derailing his career for a time, whilst driving him to great success at others. Whether this is an accurate portrayal of the man is for those who knew him to know, but for the rest of us, this was an interesting and well directed portrait of the man and the times.

Sheen was excellent as you would expect, but he led a cast which was equally on par. A real character film, with a director’s eye for style and detail. One of the main selling points for this film though, for me at least, was its method of telling the story, almost as a new manager out of his depth, and not just a football manager, but it could have been a new shift supervisor at Woolworths, or even a Prime Minister.

The looks and misgiving of the Leeds players when their beloved manager has been replaced by a man with a new vision, the sense if resisting the new in favour of more familiar ground. The nasty and destructive attitudes which are brought to bear in these situations…

It had a wholesome and familiar look and feel without taking anything away from its narrative or historical context. Well done and this is certainly recommended…

Originally reviewed on the 27th August 2010

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