The Damned United (R) - 2009 - Runtime: 98 minutes
Starring: Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall, Jim Broadbent
Director: Tom Hooper
I've been anxiously awaiting this movie for a good couple of months now every since it received good reviews and I saw the trailer. I wouldn't categorize this as a sports movie - it's more of a buddy comedy about an ambitious and somewhat maniacal coach. It's funny and a bit heartwarming and sentimental and most definitely one of the best movies I've seen in the past year.
The movie is based on the true story of Brian Clough (Michael Sheen - whom I have thoroughly enjoyed in everything he has done) (sometimes pronounced "Cloth," sometimes "Cloff." Damn you British accents!) and his forty-four day stint in 1974 as the manager of one of the most successful football clubs (at that time) in England. The movie goes back and forth between his ill-fated coaching job and his move up to the big time five years earlier. When he took over for Leeds United in '74, he managed to turn a very successful team into the worst in their division. But it wasn't all his fault - he's a very, very ambitious man as you come to find out and he won't let anything stop him from becoming the best. But the what's at the heart of this movie (and arguably the best part), is his relationship with his assistant manager, Peter Taylor (played by the wonderful Timothy Spall, who is best known for his role in the Potter films as Peter Pettigrew). They have a very close relationship and one that goes through a lot of ups (mostly ups) and some downs. They both are opposites when faced with moral decisions and you are hoping that all turns out well in the end. And that's why this movie is so good - their relationship is so genuine and honest that I really was hoping that they would reconcile. I won't give too much away because I think the ending is extremely satisfying. In the end, these two men need each other, as professionals and colleagues, but more importantly, as friends.
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this to anyone. I don't consider this a sports movie simply because that's not the focus. There are some fantastic performances and this movie is worth, in my opinion, multiple viewings. From Clough's cursed-laden tirades to the more gentler moments in the film - it's a great movie, hands down!
Rating: Own It!