Noted People II

film 2 of 3

The Damned United

Film Review by Dean Duncan Apr 10, 2015

This is nice—treating an historical, regional subject like it was the most important thing in the world. Because of the passion and commitment with which it is made, The Damned United  becomes precisely that, at least for the duration. It seems a simple thing, but films like this are a good way to learn about times and places, institutions and ideologies. Not only do we get Leeds and football and Brian Clough, but also class striving, the nouveau riche, the nature of North, plus a stupendous array of outlandish 70s’ vintage hair and clothes. It’s all quite lightly worn, all quite substantial. What a miserable country! The salt of the earth!

Michael Sheen is impressive as Clough, though he doesn’t quite blend into the overall fabric of the thing. Outsized character, or grandstander? Same thing, maybe. Tim Spall provides a nice balance as Clough’s long-suffering assistant, though that balancing does lead us to a bit of belaboured conflict, as well as a slightly squirmy climactic reconciliation. We like neat and tidy, except that things aren’t always, if you know what I mean. Finally, the film is quite stylishly made what with textured, convincing period reconstruction, some knowing, interestingly rendered sports material, and a bit of successful directorial look-at-me. Small. Good!