The Damned United
Autumn 2009 Features series
Sunday, December 6, 2009 at 4:00pm
Sunday, December 6, 2009 at 7:00pm
Directed by Tom Hooper
Screenplay by Peter Morgan and David Peace
Starring Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall, Colm Meaney, Jim Broadbent
Rated 14A ·
Based on a novel by David Peace, The Damned United is an affectionate, tongue-in-cheek homage to English football in the 1970s. Reuniting the stellar partnership of screenwriter Peter Morgan and star Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon, The Queen), the film is a welcome alternative to the standard inspirational sports biopic and can most definitely be enjoyed without knowledge of the ins and outs of English football.
Set in 1974, The Damned United follows former England player Brian Clough (Michael Sheen) – now revered as one of the greatest English football managers – and his brief 44-day tenure as coach of the Leeds United football club. Prior to this posting, he successfully presided over Derby, lifting the club to new heights with the aid of his indispensable right-hand man, Peter Taylor (Timothy Spall, Pierrepoint: The Last Hangman), and the belief that the beautiful game “must be played beautifully.” Clough takes over Leeds from his rival Don Revie (Colm Meaney, Intermission), who was managing a squad that played more brutally than beautifully, and soon creates plenty of friction both on and off the pitch with his abrasive style.
Using a flashback structure, The Damned United’s careful attention to period detail and clever use of archival footage offers a compelling snapshot of another era. And Michael Sheen, much like his previous transformations in The Queen and Frost/Nixon, superbly channels the arrogance of a manager who took on the football establishment to shape a winning team.
Sharp, funny and thoroughly entertaining, The Damned United presents a compelling and passionate look at the near-religious fervour inspired by the beautiful game.