Taking over England's top football club Leeds United, previously successful manager Brian Clough's abrasive approach and his clear dislike of the players' dirty style of play make it certain there is going to be friction. Glimpses of his earlier career help explain both his hostility to previous manager Don Revie and how much he is missing right-hand man Peter Taylor who has loyally stayed with Brighton & Hove Albion.Written by
When the Saints Go Marching In
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Excellent character study of depth and resonance. A great Brit-flick.
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!
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