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Review: The Damned United

No underdog tale here
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  October 15, 2009
3.5 3.5 Stars

If you're looking for an insufferable-underdog tall tale, then avoid director Tom Hooper’s soccer (er, football) drama about the infamously charismatic English manager Brian Clough (Michael Sheen) and his legendary rivalry with Belichick-esque Leeds United manager Don Revie (Colm Meaney). When he was hired by Leeds to replace Revie in 1974 — after building little-known Derby County into a championship side — Clough assumed the role with Muhammad Ali arrogance, only to fall victim to and learn from his own insecurities.

In addition to the textured damp British landscapes, the film convinces on the strength of impassioned performances by Sheen and Timothy Spall as his assistant manager and muse, Peter Taylor. There’s certainly a you-don’t-know-what-you’ve-got-until-it’s-gone lesson lurking, but the story arc that develops said theme is as natural and unpredictable as Clough’s maniacal ambition.

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  Topics: Reviews , Muhammad Ali, Timothy Spall, Colm Meaney,  More more >
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