DIR: Tom Hooper • WRI: Peter Morgan • PRO: Andy Harries, Grainne Marmion • DOP: Ben Smithard • ED: Melanie Oliver • DES: Eve Stewart • CAST: Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall, Colm Meaney, Stephen Graham, Jim Broadbent
Peter Morgan (writer of The Queen and Frost/Nixon) reunites for the third time with Michael Sheen (lead 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 The Damned United being a joy to watch.
The performances stand out with many great 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 Second Division manager then an arrogant manager on top of Division One. Another issue is his close friendship with his assistant Peter Taylor (Spall) and his hatred of the man who preceded him as Leeds boss, Don Revie (Meaney). While at Leeds the key points of focus are Clough’s determination to replace Don Revie as a hero and ‘father figure’ in Leeds.
Many people may feel that The Damned United is just for football fans, but even though it may appeal more to football fans, it’s an entertaining film and a joy to watch.