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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 5 April 2017
Michael Sheen is a rather excellent actor with an ability to act people better than they can act themselves. His Brian Clough is right on the nail. So, hats off to him!
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on 22 April 2017
This guy is just too clever for words, actor & Cloughy
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Don Revie and Brian Clough were great footballers and great managers, both from Middlesbrough (about 10 miles north of where I grew up) but the film sets them up as tragic enemies in a reputational boxing match in which stinging blow after blow is landed by each to the benefit of neither. David Pearce's novel has Clough as the admirer of Revie who turns against his hero. They battle it out at key points of Clough's early career at Derby County, and at his short career at Leeds itself, and finish it off on TV. Revie leaves for disappointment at England, Clough to be reborn at Nottingham Forest, neither are ever the same again.

Michael Sheen is scary as Clough, Colm Meaney brilliant as Revie, both sound like their counterparts and even begin to look like the originals. The Leeds squad is recognisable even to me at this remove; and so is the pre-Thatcher world of self-made men running British sport with all the witless charm that they ran their businesses. The attitudes, the accents, the fashions and the locations are spot on; yet this is not a sports film, you see very little soccer, it's an old fashioned tragedy about rivalry and hubris, about genius and the deadening effect of the mediocre types who seem to run sport (as they run life). The cast are brilliant and the result a great tale.
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on 4 September 2009
Using an astute mixture of documentary and fictionalized reconstruction, director Tom Hooper gives us a superb parallel account of Brian Clough's management of two football teams in the late 60s/early 70s: Derby County (assisted by Peter Taylor) and Leeds United (without Taylor). While the principals don't look particularly like their characters, the acting is so good and the story so involving that you soon forget that these are not real people. Michael Sheen, in a film which sadly won't get the worldwide distribution of The Queen or Frost/Nixon, is at the top of his game, conveying effortlessly not only the maverick manager's self-destructive egotism and ambition, but also deeper shades of a flawed but brilliant personality. Timothy Spall is (despite a wide discrepancy in physical appearance) engaging and convincing as Taylor, while Colm Meaney never ceases to surprise in his deft handling of difficult roles - here very believable as Clough's nemesis Don Revie. Jim Broadbent is great as usual as Derby's long-suffering Chairman, and the only character I felt struck a false note was Stephen Graham as Billy Bremner - played as a squat and sulky cherub, almost a cruel parody of the man - and not really convincing as a professional footballer.

The plot cracks along with humour and dramatic turns at the expense of a few factual compromises, and the era is re-created with a smattering of anachronisms - but these discrepancies are forgivable. In fact, most of the interesting half hour or so of deleted scenes would have enriched the film even more if they had been kept, showing as they do Clough ranging from his most heartless to his most loving. Add to this interesting featurettes of the time and Sheen re-creating interviews - not to mention Muhammed Ali's actual tribute to Clough in the feature itself - and you have a tremendous dvd. This is a top-notch British film celebrating a fascinating British folk hero, a highly recommended adaptation of David Peace's book - even for those who are not football fans.
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on 16 March 2017
I am definitely NT a football fan but this film is great -Michael Sheen may be a little OTT at times but the whole is no worse for that. Leeds United players are gems and does it never stop raining in Leeds? Eminently watchable. Not sure how much is true or believable but it makes a good story !
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on 8 April 2017
Michael Sheen simply IS Brian Clough in this film. It is a reminder of what a great football manager Brian Clough was and what a great actor Michael Sheen is. And TimothySpall and Jim Broadbent in supporting roles are both excellent too.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 February 2013
This (in)famous sequence in which Leeds United chairman Manny Cousins puts this question to the (about to be) sacked manager Brian Howard Clough (in response to Clough's compensation pay demands) is just one of many golden moments in Tom Hooper's masterly 2009 depiction of the life and career of the best manager England never had. Indeed, although it undoubtedly helps, I don't think you actually need to be a 'football saddo' (like me) who is always thrilled to stumble upon an early Sunday morning showing on ITV4 of the Big Match from the 1970s (the period when I actually was a football fan), to appreciate the brilliance of Hooper's film, and of Peter Morgan's screenplay (making it, for me, up with the likes of The Hustler, This Sporting Life, Eight Men Out, etc as one of the finest ever sporting screen depictions).

Of course, in the role as the Middlesbrough lad we have an astonishing and uncanny performance from the great Michael Sheen - his other 'film impersonations' have been impressive (David Frost, Bliar, etc), but none gets anywhere near his Clough - it really is as if he inhabits the role. Not to be outdone, The Damned United also features another remarkably life-like performance with Colm Meaney doing a great (and typically dour) Don Revie, the Leeds United manager whose job Clough had inherited for his 44 days in the role (as Revie went on to manage England), and with whom Clough had a publicly vindictive relationship (which in the film is portrayed as stemming from an incident where celebrated Leeds manager Revie had snubbed Clough's offered handshake whilst the latter was languishing in the lower divisions managing the (soon to be big) Derby County).

However, The Damned United is not only an impressive display of consummate acting - for example, we also have Timothy Spall, typically superb and down-to-earth as Clough's managerial sidekick, Peter Taylor, the great Jim Broadbent as Clough's chairman at Derby County, Sam Longson ('Colin Todd - a salary of £300 a week, you can't pay a footballer that'), Maurice Roëves excellent as the hard-bitten Scottish ex-miner and Leeds coach Jimmy Gordon, Stephen Graham suitably antagonistic as Billy Bremner, and (the one negative) Peter McDonald as the unconvincing (well, he's about a foot too tall, for a start) Johnny Giles - but is also a cleverly constructed, shot and edited piece of work, as it dovetails Clough's later period at Leeds, with his earlier aspirational time at Derby, thereby explaining his confrontational attitude on arriving at Leeds (whose initial training session at Elland Road is cinematic magic, as he lambasts the Leeds players for their past intimidatory approach 'You've never won any of them fairly, you've done it all by bloody cheating...'). The film's concluding sequence to the tune of Bowie's Queen Bitch in which we learn of the future trajectories of Clough and Revie's careers is also exhilarating and magical.

As you have probably guessed, I am rather a fan of The Damned United, both this film and David Peace's book on which it is based (and which paints Clough in a more negative personal light than does the film), and whilst I am sure I would be preaching to the converted in relation to anyone who has a nostalgic interest in this sporting episode, I do honestly believe that Hooper's (and Morgan's) tale should appeal to anyone interested in what is a compelling story of (variously thwarted and fulfilled) human ambition and tragedy - even my other half loves it, and she hates football!
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on 3 September 2009
Brilliant film and Michael Sheen and Timothy Spall play there parts amazingly well. Sheen has proved here what a world-class actor he is in playing 'old big head' Brian Clough.
The only negative is some of the deleted scenes, especially the one when he comes in at half time and makes the players drink a bottle of brandy after a shocking first half against Leeds Utd. It just goes straight to Clough in his office which to any non football fan will make no sense at all as we are used to seeing managers in the dugout. Little things like that take the shine of it a little but there is no doubt its got a good plot with fantastic actors who pull off there roles exceptionally well.

Michael Sheen for the next James Bond??? Stranger things have happened (Derby County winning the first division for one!!!)
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on 20 July 2010
Another truely excellent performance from one of the best character actors of today. Michael Sheen always delivers and he turns in one of his best performance in 'The Damned United'. The film version is better than the book and more sympathetic to Brian Clough than the book ever was. I cannot think of another football film that was any good, but this film certainly is just that. Great acting and a believable 1970's feel to the whole movie. You certainly dont have to be a football fan to enjoy this film, I know becuase I am not one either.

Some of the more pedantic of us will complain about some inaccuracies but they should remember that this is a cinematic film and not a documentary, therefor you have to expect a certain artistic license from the film makers. The changes they have made are only slight and insignificant and therefore should not effect your viewing pleasure. If it does then the fault is with you and not the film. This is proberbly Michael Sheen's best film to date and certainly his most believable performance yet.
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VINE VOICEon 22 January 2010
I used to live not far from where Brian Clough was born, and never did see him play for Middlesbrough at Ayresome Park since he had already moved to Sunderland by the time I started supporting Middlesbrough.

During the 1960s I used to watch that great Leeds side play often at Elland Road, Newcastle and Sunderland too when they played away. So, watching this remarkable film did bring back a few memories. However, although I do think it is a very good film about football as it was in those far off days, this film does not really explore entirely the difficulties Brian Clough had with the Leeds players during those 44 days when he was in charge. It may well be that the whole truth has never really emerged and perhaps the writer might have thought against providing too much speculation about what really went on behind the scenes taking into account that many of those players at Leeds are still around today.

It does explore Clough's arrogance though, and his lack of respect to the Leeds players and also to his arch enemy Don Revie who had laid down the foundation for the success and failures that Leeds United endured during those ten years from 1964 until 1974 when Clough took over the reins of management.

Michael Sheen as Clough and Timothy Spall as his side kick Peter Taylor are both superb in their respective roles. Their rapport is apparant throughout and both stole all the scenes in which they appeared together. Sheen of course, does come across as Clough, getting his mannerism right and also his dialect. Both actors are a joy to watch. Mention must be made of Irish actor Colm Meany (Star Trek Deep Space 9) who portrays Don Revie superbly

A great film to watch about football, but you need to overlook its weaknesses though.

As for the Blu-Ray discs, its superb. Picture detail and soundtrack are both very good indeed. Also numerous extras abound which are interesting.

Highly recommended.
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