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Movie Reviews

Film Review: “The Damned United”

(Sony Pictures Classics. 1 hour, 38 minutes. Rated R for language. Directed by Tom Hooper.) Michael Sheen (Brian Clough), Jim Broadbent (Sam Longson), Timothy Spall (Peter Taylor), Colm Meaney (Don Revie), Peter McDonald (Johnny Giles), Brian McCardie (Dave Mackay). Music by Rob Lane.


Sheen’s the show in this entertaining look at Brian Clough, the British football manager (we say soccer here) and his rise and fall in the early 1970s, pretty much of his own doing. You don’t really have to know anything about soccer (I don’t) to follow the story, as the match scenes are few. It’s a character study of a dynamic, ambitious young man who took over at Leeds United in 1974 (when they were the reigning champions), and who was ousted after a mere 44 days. The story doesn’t make Clough all hero or all villain: he’s a complicated man with a lot of talent and too much mouth. Integral to his success, as everyone but Clough seems to realize, is his right-hand man, Peter Taylor (Spall, a busy character actor best known to American audiences as Wormtail in the Harry Potter franchise). Their relationship, with its own ups and downs, is at the heart of the movie. Screenwriter Peter Morgan also penned Sheen’s two previous triumphs, The Queen and Frost/Nixon; finally the star, Sheen proves he can carry the ball.