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|Index||68 reviews in total|
63 out of 73 people found the following review useful:
Damned Brilliant, 29 March 2009
Author: gary-444 from United Kingdom
Football has been poorly served by the cinema to date. "The Damned
United" goes a long way to rectifying that. A bravura performance from
Martin Sheen as Brian Clough and a faithful, intelligent screenplay by
Peter Morgan combine with a well chosen storyline to deliver a
convincing tale. Crucially, this is not a film about football, it uses
football as a framework for ambition, greed, success, failure,
friendship and love.
The traditional traps surrounding a football film are avoided. "Live" action is limited, and team sequences brief. Consequently the characters are given a chance to breathe and develop , not just Clough's, but those of Peter Taylor, marvellously captured by Timothy Spall, and others . Chairmen Manny Cousins and Sam Longson enjoy rewarding cameo parts and the footballers themselves are picked as actors rather than surrogate footballers.
Critics may carp about the odd anachronism and unconvincing physical shape of the Leeds United team in particular but it is the ego of Brian Clough which bestrides this story. The 90 minutes barely does justice to his 45 days at Leeds as his career up to the appointment is interwoven into the main tale. Although faction is a dangerous device, for me it does justice to both the lovingly recreated era and the characters. Cloughs family have apparently repudiated this work, which is a shame. It is broadly favourable with the wrinkles as foibles rather than damnable weaknesses.
The film closes with a re-creation of the YTV interview with Clough and Revie sitting side by side immediately following Clough's dismissal. The atmosphere is electric, Clough is surprisingly conciliatory whilst Revie delivers an, "I told you so", tour de force. Echoes of the Sheen/Morgan collaboration Frost / Nixon abound as does the repeated device of the late night telephone call from the arch protagonists, this time Clough to Revie, last time Nixon to Frost. The final reconciliation between Clough and Taylor is as brave a depiction of a male platonic relationship as has been screened for a very long time.
A triumph for all concerned.
40 out of 50 people found the following review useful:
Whether or not it's fact or fiction it's certainly entertaining!, 24 March 2009
Author: thependragon-1 from United Kingdom
I went to see this film with a certain trepidation as I don't always
understand the true workings of the so-called beautiful game. I'm often
rather lost by the offside rule, not too sure what actually constitutes
handball and can't quite understand why a good friend can kiss a poster
of George Weah and refer to the Liberian as a God. However, I can
recognise what a worldwide phenomenon football has become and the
massive status that the late Brian Clough held within in the sport.
Clough was one heck of a character and very much of his time and this is where 'The Damned United' really succeeds. You feel like you are truly watching the 70s when men were men and modern players like constant diver Cristiano Ronaldo would have been laughed (or even kicked) off the pitch. Sheen gives an excellent performance and Clough is portrayed as a complex individual with the sort of charisma and wit, which may endear him to cinema-goers who have little knowledge of football or the man himself.
However, I saw this film with a friend who is a huge soccer fan and who confessed afterwards to having certain problems with the accuracy of the story. The film is after all based on a book by David Peace, which merges the facts with his own fiction to show what he thought might being going on behind the scenes during Clough's reign as manager of Derby County and his infamous 44 days in charge at Leeds United. Having recently watched some TV dramatisations of Peace's other novels involving the real life Yorkshire Ripper murders it is easy to see why some people find his particular way of merging fact with fiction lacking in credibility. I personally didn't have such a problem with this film as I felt it really got to grips with who Clough was as a football manager and his probable motives for how he went about the job at Leeds.
While the film's narrative sometimes veers confusingly back and forth between Clough's time at Derby and his short spell at Leeds, 'The Damned United' is a really enjoyable piece of entertainment full of great actors bringing to life intriguing characters. The ultimate strength of the film is that the story manages to become more about friendship (the relationship between Brian and Peter Taylor) and the destructiveness of vanity rather than how many football matches Clough won.
32 out of 37 people found the following review useful:
Michael Sheen is Brian Howard Clough..., 30 March 2009
Author: the_rattlesnake25 from Sheffield, UK
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 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.
32 out of 39 people found the following review useful:
Not bad, young man., 28 March 2009
Author: chrismartonuk-1 from United Kingdom
The life of the egocentric one gets the big screen treatment - another
feather in his cap, and one to put over Shanks, Busby, Mercer, Allison,
Paisley etc. The fact he shares the spotlight with Don Revie would be
his only disappointment. One may find the numerous anachronisms and
inaccuracies distracting, i.e. Dave Mackay had left Derby before Clough
and Taylor's resignation, and that 5-0 Leeds triumph came the year
after County's championship triumph (or robbery as devout Geldard
Enders would maintain) - I know, I was there that great day wallowing
in revenge for the previous year's injustices.
Without resorting to caricature, Sheen effortlessly conveys Clough's rampant narcissism and hubris. His obsession with Revie is portrayed as something he needs to work out of his system before getting his life back on keel. Revie is depicted as such a cartoon villain that one is almost disappointed that he doesn't appear clad in top hat and black cloak, chuckling evilly as he twirls his moustache and ties Cloughs' two sons to the railway line. Colm Meaney is uncanny in his depiction of the Elland Road supremo and his face captures the haunted look of the man who must have felt the fates were against him at times. Spall seems physically miscast as Taylor but puts across the fact that Pete was Clough's often unheeded moral conscience - a fact illustrated by how Clough went to the bad in his later years at Forest when Taylor wasn't around. Jim Broadbent is every provincial businessman made good as Sam Longson who must have needed the patience of a saint in his latter years at Derby.
Occasionally, the script's pace works against it. Clough and Taylor have barely signed the contract with Mike Bamber when they're off to Majorca. It might have been better to have a scene or two showing their tribulations at Brighton which increased Clough's desire to snatch at the first decent offer that came his way. I still remember hearing the humiliating defeat they suffered at home to Bristol Rovers on the coach back from Elland Road on the radio - and the ensuing hysterical laughter. To think, one year later, we were laughing the other side of our faces.
26 out of 29 people found the following review useful:
Excellent character study of depth and resonance. A great Brit-flick., 31 March 2009
Author: iandfleming from United Kingdom
I am currently two thirds of the way through the novel. I'm finding it
to be a great discovery. Peace's writing has all the energy and pace of
Irvine Welsh at his best and having just caught the Red Riding trilogy,
he's captured my imagination. What he has truly captured in The Damn
United is the true spirit of the 70's and the days when I would watch
football dressed in the kit of whatever team I was supporting that
week, on my Dad's knee. My Dad loathed Brian 'Bigmouth' / 'Bighead'
Clough! But even as a boy I loved him, thought he was hilarious.
Reading the novel and seeing the film, we discover a man truly out of
time ... more a man / celebrity of the future. The first celebrity
football manager? If he'd been a manager in the Britpop era, he'd be a
national treasure now ... and may even have been given the England job
he so coveted and that the fans longed for him to have. watching Sheen
(yet again!) faithfully recreate voice, mannerisms ... inhabiting this
character, makes this film (for it is a 'film' in the truly British
sense) all the more compelling. Cloughie is complex, sensitive,
probably with an inner shyness that he masked outrageously with his
outspoken diatribes. He was everywhere when I was a kid ... TV, papers,
magazines ... always with a controversial line that makes Noel
Gallagher look like he minces his words. The on screen footie from
actors is mercifully kept to a minimum, as - as always, actors don't
make for convincing footballers. Even the moments from them we do get,
they look clueless. But it doesn't detract from the story ... a story
of obsessive desire, absolute drive and male relationships, in a time
when male bonding usually meant trading a punch or two. This is a good
if unfaithful adaptation of the novel. Why in the film do Cloughie and
Peter Taylor fall out with a row on the Malaga harbour? In the novel,
they trade punches and Cloughie makes a real show of himself ... thus
making the reunion all the more difficult. But it's a small gripe. The
thing I really took from this was although times have changed for
football - when did Man Utd dressing room last have ashtrays??? -
essentially, things have changed little. Big star players, vast amounts
of money (£150,000 was considered a fortune back then), teams fortunes
spinning on their positions in the old division one, the league being
dominated by one or four big clubs. And the cheating, and the ref
baiting ... little has truly changed.
Good to see a strong Brit-flick that doesn't resort to mockney gangster schlick or the current plethora of cheap horror schlock. This is a character study of depth and resonance. Beautifully, stylistically photographed and wonderfully performed. GO SEE IT!
21 out of 26 people found the following review useful:
Sheen is Clough, 28 March 2009
Author: lee-1031 from United Kingdom
Having read the book, I did expect a darker film, however, it is not to the detriment of the film that it attempts to give the interpretation a 'feel good factor. Sheen is utterly brilliant as Clough and captures the ego, charisma and above all weakness of the man. The support cast are excellent, although Spall did struggle to look comfortable in a sporting film (Taylor was en ex goalie and poor Tim's got 10 to 2 feet etc). There are a lot of factual inaccuracies, but it is based on a 'faction novel' so one should not allow this to spoil a memorable film and if it does nothing else it does make you feel extremely nostalgic to this era.
23 out of 31 people found the following review useful:
a witty biopic and a joy to watch, 13 March 2009
Author: PatrickCLF from England
Peter Morgan (Writer of The Queen and Frost/Nixon) reunites for the
third time with Michael Sheen (Leading actor of The Queen and
Frost/Nixon) as the two men look to complete a hat-trick. Michael Sheen
can tick off another box on his list of his portrayals of iconic
Englishmen as his witty performance is a key reason for what makes The
Damned United a joy to watch. The performances stand out with many well
done performances by the leading cast, in particular Sheen and Spall
who show a very impressive on screen relationship.
The film can get confusing at times as it follows two different stories, switching frequently from Brian Clough's miraculous time at Derby County and his disappointing and shambolic time at Derby's then rivals Leeds United. The film doesn't get involved in Clough's personal life but focuses on his career with both clubs, starting off with Clough viewed firstly as a small-time 2nd Division manager to a arrogant manager on top of the Division 1, another key issue is his close friendship with his assistant Peter Taylor (Timothy Spall) and hatred of the man who preceded him as Leeds boss, Don Revie (Colm Meaney). While at Leeds the key points of focus is Clough's determination to replace Don Revie as a hero in Leeds and 'father figure' as well his poor relationship with the players and the end to his arrogance. Many people may feel that The Damned United is just for football fans, and even though it may appeal more to football fans it's an entertaining film and a joy to watch.
16 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
Bigmouth strikes again, 4 September 2009
Author: jc-osms from United Kingdom
Perhaps I'd have given this movie a higher mark if I hadn't read the
David Peace novel before-hand. The latter is a much more scabrous
affair, real no-holds barred stuff and you really get inside the head
of Mr Brian Howard Clough, one of football's most talented, successful
and yet eccentric managers.
Let me start by saying how refreshing it is to get a film on a cult UK sports hero - it seems so rare, especially with Hollywood's track record of foisting any number of baseball, American football or basketball movies on us. Clough was a larger than life character, blessed, unlike many in the football fraternity, with real intelligence and the ability to mould a team of average players into a genuine team, raising them many times above their erstwhile standard of playing talent, taking unfashionable teams like Derby and later Nottingham Forest to improbable levels of success. Opinionated and outspoken at the same time, he was a natural for the burgeoning area of TV punditry in football, with a never to be forgotten drawling voice which only made his remarks live longer in the memory.
So does this movie do justice to the great man - yes and no. On the plus side Michael Sheen gives a terrific, bravura performance in the Clough role, looks reasonably like him and gets off his mannerisms and accent superbly. For one thing, it's well known however that in response to criticism from the Clough family and other real-life characters played in the film, notably Leeds' Irish midfield maestro Johnny Giles, the movie plays down significantly, for example,the novel's propensity to show Clough's alleged growing dependence on alcohol as well as the dynamics of his non-relationship with the Leeds squad, especially with the still-alive Giles.
The movie is really about Clough's relationship with three men over the late 60's - early 70's period depicted here; his Derby County chairman Sam Longson, excellently played by Jim Broadbent, who he thinks he can wrap around his finger but in the end pushes too far once too often, his right-hand man Peter Taylor, the calming voice of reason and football talent-spotter whom he fatally fails to take with him to mighty Leeds and lastly his nemesis in football, Don Revie, his predecessor as Leeds manager and the elephant in the room that Clough can't, despite his massive arrogance-bordering personality, expunge from the minds of the Leeds team. Timothy Spall gives a good performance of light and shade as "behind every great man" Taylor but the effect of his performance is weakened by his looking completely unlike his real-life prototype. No problems on that score with Colm Meaney as Don Revie (apart from a lack of height!), who nails Revie's distinctive accent to a "T".
The underlying theme of the young revolting against the old - Clough appears to be younger than most of his players, never mind the board members of the teams he manages, can only culminate in failure as Leeds show him the door after only 44 days when it's really the players who should have been sacked, although as all UK football fans know, Clough (sensibly combined with Taylor again) rose phoenix-like from the ashes to prosper at Nottingham in the late 70's.
The football scenes disappointingly, are only average however and their artificiality is pointed up even more with real-life TV inserts from the era itself, plus again the fact that the actors playing key figures in the team like captain Billy Bremner and the afore-mentioned Giles don't remotely resemble them, takes away veracity and credibility. The settings in mid 70's working-class Britain are mixed in effect and perhaps a little more contemporary background could have been sprinkled around (the miners' strike of 1973, the minority UK government political background, etc) to add local flavour. I didn't get the music chosen as the soundtrack either - Fleetwood Mac's "Man of The World" and David Bowie's "Queen Bitch" hardly seem to chime in with the story and most people know that Clough himself was an avid Sinatra fan - only hinted at here.
The screenplay does utilise some of his best-known sound bites and Michael Sheen has a great turn and volley, but whilst I enjoyed the film and certainly believe Clough worthy of cinematic elevation, the unreality of much of what I saw played against what could have been better. Perhaps artistic vision was stunted by the background furore caused by the book, ironically compromising the story of a man who rarely took a backward step himself and like old Frankie himself, truly did it "his way".
7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
A perfect movie for me, 1 April 2009
Author: Andrew Marshall from United Kingdom
I had a few reservations about this film. Firstly we have seen Michael
Sheen play a number of real life people in the last couple of years.
Would it be possible for Sheen to cast aside these previous roles and
play another big well known (in the UK) character in Brian Clough. I
also had the distinct feeling that this may be a made for TV film that
was bumped up to a theatrical release based on Sheen's recent success.
My final reservation was whether the football would look good as it is
frequently very poor when played by actors.
I have got to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the film. The main focus of the film is the relationship between the young pretender in football management Clough and the master in Don Revie the Manager of Leeds United. The film focuses on Clough's short tenure as the manager of Leeds after replacing Revie in 1974. The lead performances by Sheen and Meaney are excellent and it is at least as enthralling as the Frost/Nixon interplay.
It is a perfect film for me as it covers a period when my football passion was at its peak as I was about 10 years old at the time. As for the reservations I had nothing to worry about with Sheen. He transforms into Clough and it is truly a remarkable portrayal. I still tend to think that the film wouldn't lose very much on the small screen. Finally the film cleverly uses real life footage and we see very little of the actors playing football. That's probably just as well as they seemed a little older than the real players were. I'll have to check their bios to confirm that, but Bremner and Clarke looked the wrong side of 40 to me.
I suspect that to get the most out of the film you'll probably need to like football, but if you do you're more or less guaranteed to enjoy it.
4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
We're from the north, Pete. What do we care about Brighton? Bloody southerners., 8 July 2010
Author: lastliberal from United States
Michael Sheen (The Queen, Frost/Nixon), Jim Broadbent (Moulin Rouge! ,
Longford), Timothy Spall (Michael Sheen), and Colm Meaney (How Harry
Became a Tree) are all great actors, and their presence means that this
film is worth watching even if you don't particularly like football. I
doubt however, you would be watch if you weren't a fan.
Brian Clough (Sheen) brings Derby out of obscurity to the top and ends up managing his archenemy Leeds United. He hates the team, he hates the style of football they play, and yet, he signs on to manage them. A recipe for disaster, and a disaster it was.
The film is not so much about football, as it is about Clough. He makes enemies everywhere he goes. No wonder he only lasted 44 days.
A fantastic film with brilliant performances by Sheen and Spall.
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