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Thursday, November 11, 2010



You can watch the trailer here

The Damned United is a 2009 sports drama directed by Tom Hooper that tells a dramatized story of Brian Clough's 44-day reign as the coach of the Leeds United Football Club. The film cuts back and forth between the story of his time as the coach and flashbacks of the years leading up to his appointment. In the years prior, Clough (played by Michael Sheen) had established himself as a successful manager of a team in Darby, taking them from England's second division to winning the championship in the first division. After his promotion to the coach of Leeds, however, things began to unravel right before his very eyes as he tried to instill a stronger sense of pride among his players.

The screenplay itself has its ups and downs. For starters, I did enjoy the back and forth between the film's past and present as each scene gave a little more insight into Clough's character. In addition, the movie utilized archive footage both of Clough's teams and of the real Clough himself, giving the movie almost a pseudo-documentary feel. Be warned: everything I've read about The Damned United says that the situations in the film are grossly exaggerated, so don't take it all as pure fact despite the aforementioned feel. I did, however, have a little issue with how the film ended. I won't go into detail, but the final scene seemed a little Hollywood and ridiclous, and it just left a bad taste in my mouth.

The acting in the film was very, very good. I'm not quite sure what it is about Michael Sheen, but something about him just draws me into his characters. I've only seen him in a few films (most notably 2006's The Queen and 2008's Frost/Nixon) and as a semi-recurring character on television's "30 Rock," but every time I see him, he finds a way to utterly captivate me. The same goes this time around: however true his caricature of Brian Clough is, it's still fun to watch. In addition, the performance given by Timothy Spall is also noteworthy. His most recent work has been as Peter Pettigrew in the Harry Potter franchise, but he always seems to provide a great performance as an ancillary character.

Overall, the film is good at best. It received astounding review from critics, boasting a score on Metacritic that they say spells universal acclaim, but I can't quite say it's as good as all that. Still, if you're into soccer and the politics behind it all, then The Damned United is definitely for you. If not, then you may still want to watch it for Michael Sheen, but I'm not giving any guarantees.

Movie Review Summary:
Grade: B-
Thumb... Slightly up

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