Monday, 21 June 2010

Film Review: THE DAMNED UNITED (2009)

Director: Tom Hooper
Running time: 98 mins (approx)
Certificate (UK): 15

UK Release Date: 27th March 2009

Watched on DVD Monday 21st June 2010.


This is a film about football, or soccer if you prefer, but I’ll stick to football because that’s what it’s called in most parts of the world. It’s about football in the late 1960’s, early 1970’s and one man involved in the game in particular. The man is Brian Clough, sadly no longer with us, and the film tells of how he came to manage one of the biggest teams in England at the time, Leeds United.

The story begins with Brian managing Derby County who are struggling at the bottom of the second division. He is ably assisted by his friend Peter Taylor. The biggest and most successful team at the time are Leeds United, managed by Don Revie, who Brian admires greatly. Leeds have a very robust style of play that Brian does not like, he believes players with talent don’t need to use these tactics (and I agree with him). When Derby draws Leeds in the cup, Brian is excited to meet the man he admires, but when Revie snubs him he vows revenge. Brian and Peter then go all out to make Derby a successful team. They win promotion and eventually win the championship. Brian now finds he has problems with his chairman, Sam Longson, who believes Clough thinks he’s bigger than the club. It all culminates in Brian and Peter both getting the sack. As luck would have it, at the same time Don Revie leaves the Leeds job to take over as manager of England. Brian is asked by the Leeds board to come in as the new manager. The film goes on to tell of his 44 days in charge and how it affected him and those around him.

As a football fan I loved this film, it tells of events that happened during my lifetime and events that, although I was quite young, I still remember quite well. As a movie fan, I also liked this film very much; it’s very well made, inter-cutting archive footage with an excellent drama. A tremendous performance from Michael Sheen as Brian Clough, he really looked and sounded just like the man. Great performances also from Timothy Spall as Peter Taylor and Jim Broadbent as Sam Longson. Honourable mentions also go to Colm Meaney as Don Revie and Mark Bazeley as Austin Mitchell.

I guess if you’re not a football fan then it might be one to avoid, but it is a really good drama. Personally, I loved it, although I don’t support any of the teams the film is about, I can remember many of the events portrayed. Over all, an enthralling drama, a true story, set against the world of football in the late 60’s, early 70’s. If you’re a football (or soccer) fan, most definitely recommended, if not, then it’s still a very decent drama (still recommended).

My score: 8.3/10

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