Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Damned United

Directed by Tom Hooper.
2009. Rated R, 98 minutes.
Michael Sheen
Timothy Spall
Colm Meaney
Henry Goodman
David Roper
Jimmy Reddington
Maurice Roëves
Stephen Graham
Peter McDonald
Jim Broadbent

Plot: After years of feuding with their manager Don Revie (Meaney), Brian Clough (Sheen) is named to succeed Revie as the manager of Leeds United; "inspired" by a true story.

The Good: Brian Clough is a unique character for a sports movie underdog. He’s not your run-of-the-mill humble and downtrodden guy facing seemingly insurmountable odds. When we meet him, he’s already overcome the odds, twice, one of which we witness in flashback. He’s arrogant and treats success at the next level like a forgone conclusion. On top of that, most of the difficulties he encounters are of his own creation. Michael Sheen plays the role excellently. He manages to get us on his side, even though he’s a jerk. As Clough’s sidekick talent scout Peter Taylor, Spall is even better. He gives a perfectly restrained performance that seems to mirror our feelings on what’s going on. The movie as a whole also displays a sly sense of humor.

The Bad: Though we get a good sense of what’s going on between Clough and his new team, we’re shown surprisingly little. All but one of the players are simply part of a faceless mob. It would’ve elevated the movie further to witness more of the dynamic between them. Likewise, we don’t see much actual soccer…er…football. We don’t get the rush of exhilaration or disappointment we would normally get from watching it play out before us. It seems to be a case of overdone restraint.

The Ugly: What one of the players does during the singing of the National Anthem.

Recommendation: TDU is a different sort of sports movie and it’s better for it. It’s much more a character study than anything else. Therefore, don’t go into this looking for the next Rocky or Remember the Titans. However, do check it out if you want a more mature sports film.

The Opposite View: Rick Groen, The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

What the Internet Says: 7.6/10 on imdb.com (5/26/10), 94% on rottentomatoes.com, 81/100 on metacritic.com

MY SCORE: 7.5/10

No comments:

Post a Comment