Posted 30 March 2009 - 11:50 PM
Film: The Damned United
Opinion: Brian Howard Clough. “The greatest English manager never to manage the English National side.” Whether you agree with that sentiment or not, everybody knows Brian Clough was one of the great personalities of the game. Based around David Pearce’s bestselling novel ‘The Damned United’ (which Johnny Giles called: “fiction based on fact”), the films narrative follows the events preceding and during those fateful 44-days of management from the perspective of Cloughie (played by Michael Sheen).
Sheen turns in, yet another brilliant performance as the arrogant, stubborn, distant, bitter, intelligent, yet highly flawed man who went on to become a legend of British football. From his mannerisms to the way he speaks, Sheen projects the outward personality of Brian Clough through to the audience to a tee. And more importantly he takes the film away from the touchlines of simply being ‘another football film’, and instead creates a human drama about one man’s battle with jealously, bitterness and ambition and how that can destroy everything around you, quicker than Billy Bremner could break your legs. While Morgan’s script keeps up the dry wit and humour, and Hooper’s direction carries the colourful scenery of 1960’s and 1970’s Britain, the film could have spent more time centred around the other players on the pitch, more specifically Clough’s second in-command in Peter Taylor and the Leeds United side of the Revie era. They are shown to be Revie’s surrogate sons and nothing more. With that said however, I found it a hugely enjoyable film that went way beyond the stereotypical association we have football films today and instead created a profile of a man who encompassed everything that was good, bad and all that in between about the beautiful game.