Cast: Michael Sheen, Colm Meaney, Stephen Graham
Genre: Drama / Sport
Cinema-Reader – 7.6
IMDB – 7.6
FilmAffinity - 6.9
Brian Clough (Michael Sheen, in the spotlight since his performance of Tony Blair in The Queen) is the football manager of Derby County (team located within the bottom of the English First Division and struggling to not be relegated to lower categories) which destiny changes when facing Leeds United, the current Premiership Champion, during a FA CUP match.
From that moment, Clough develops a rivalry with Leeds Manager Don Revie (Colm Meany) that encourages him to overpass all setbacks in order to achieve what he considers the best revenge: defeat Revie and his Leeds in a Premiership match.
Clough visionaries ideas about football and his desire of revenge, drive Derby County to win his first ever Premiership Title, and causing something that even the own Clough did not imagine: he ending up running Leeds United as Revie’s Replacement.
Based on a true story and a book after the same name, The Damned United is an approach within the life of a young and successful football manager with a huge ego, who enjoys showing up his achievements and qualities; which final goal is becoming European Champion with his team.
Football is not a common topic within the film industry despite some movies of doubtful quality (i.e. Goal, Goal 2 or Goal 3 that even before being released I bet it will be crap…). There are loads of movies using sport as a background to tell a story, normally an overcoming story. However football is not in that selected group as American Football (with films such as Any Given Sunday) or Basketball (Eddie or Blue Chips)
The only meaningful movie in which football has a main role is Victory, in which Stallone tried to make us believe that he was a keeper (he also tried to make us believe he was an actor...)
Thereafter, and just having a look into the precedents, could seem a waste of time just even believe that a football movie could be worthy to be watched. However, this movie is different. Mixing up film footage with true frames, the director Tom Hooper tries to create a sensation of false documental that works indeed.
The trigger that makes this happens is also the actors performances. Michael Sheen plays such amazing performance of Brian Clough, a character based a half on the own Clough and a haft in a current football figure; Jose Mourinho.
The supporting actors are terrific. From Colm Meany (deemed as one of the most notorious Irish actor of all time) to Stephen Graham, a brit actor which roles go from a neurotic and violent ex-con Nazi in This is England to a mob ganster with an easy mouth in Public Enemies.
Good movie for all those amazed by football and its history.