Set in 1960s and 1970s England, THE DAMNED UNITED tells the confrontational and darkly humorous story of Brian Cloughs doomed 44 day tenure as manager of the reigning champions of English football Leeds United. Previously managed by his bitter rival Don Revie, and on the back of their most successful period ever as a football club, Leeds was perceived by many to represent a new aggressive and cynical style of football – an anathema to the principled yet flamboyant Brian Clough, who had achieved astonishing success as manager of Hartlepool and Derby County building teams in his own vision with trusty lieutenant Peter Taylor. Taking the Leeds job without Taylor by his side, with a changing room full of what in his mind were still Dons boys, would lead to an unheralded examination of Cloughs belligerence and brilliance over 44 days. This is that story. The story of The Damned United. Adapted for the screen by Peter Morgan (The Queen, The Last King of Scotland, Frost/Nixon) from the best-selling and critically acclaimed novel by David Peace. Directed by Tom Hooper (John Adams, Longford, Elizabeth I).
This film seems to be much more about Brian Cloghs battle with his own personal demons. Ego, self destruction and friendship. There’s very little in the way of football in the film but that may be a selling point to most people. Michael Sheen does a truly great job of Clough, he shows real passion and depth. The script is good and has plenty of humour.
All in all a reasonable all round film. It won’t leave you disappointed but unfortunately its not going to be wowing you either. Still scraping a fourth star from me shows how entertaining it is despite missing the spot.