Based on the best-selling book of the same name, The Damned United
is the story of one of Britain’s finest ever football managers, Brian Clough, and his curtailed 44-day reign at the helm of Leeds United. It turns out it’s also the tale of his formative years at Derby County, the story of his rivalry with previous Leeds United boss Don Revie, and ultimately, the exploration of his relationship with his assistant, Peter Taylor.
The film explores the story by moving backwards and forwards in time, but always at the heart of The Damned United is its trump card. Michael Sheen has already richly deserved an abundance of plaudits in his acting career, not least for his superb portrayal of David Frost in Frost/Nixon, and he carves out another terrific performance here. Taking on the challenge of playing the larger than life Clough, his work here is tremendous, and the highlight of an already-strong cast that also features Timothy Spall and Colm Meaney.
On the screen, the story of The Damned United is actually distilled into quite a straightforward tale, albeit one considerably enhanced by its aforementioned cast. It wisely keeps its running time trimmed, and while you can’t help but suspect that there’s much to the story that’s not explored here, it’s a good, solid telling of a quite extraordinary tale. Sheen won’t, of course, attract Oscar-attention for such a resoundingly British role, but surely his time, on this latest piece of evidence, will come. --Jon Foster
United Kingdom released, PAL/Region 2 DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital 5.1 ), English ( Subtitles ), Hindi ( Subtitles ), ANAMORPHIC WIDESCREEN (1.85:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Anamorphic Widescreen, Commentary, Deleted Scenes, Featurette, Interactive Menu, Making Of, Scene Access, SYNOPSIS: Based on David Peace's book, The Damned United portrays the tempestuous 44 days that forthright Brian Clough (Michael Sheen) spent as manager of Leeds United. After alienating the side's star players and a string of awful results, 'Cloughie' was given the boot, but that's just half the story! Brian Clough was one of a kind. In 1974, Clough was already a renowned figure, just as much for his dynamic personality as for his fantastic managerial ability. Having led Derby County to the first league victory in their history, Clough left in a cloud of controversy and, after a brief spell at Brighton, found himself in the Leeds United hotseat after Don Revie's departure for the England job. What followed was the most incredible 44 days of football management! ...The Damned United