Top positive review
33 people found this helpful
on 6 September 2009
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.