Sunday, 15 March 2009

On screen: The Damned United

Modern football films are incredibly naff. Who can forget When Saturday Comes and Sean Bean’s Jimmy Muir, "a hard-drinking brewery worker in the city of Sheffield, with an arrogant lack of respect for authority” or the Mexican-turned-Geordie of Goal’s Santiago Nunez?

We haven’t seen Mean Machine, and the thought of prisoners 'getting pally' with Vinny Jones means we’ll probably never bother. While we're at it, the so bad its hilarious A Shot At Glory brought together the unlikely acting combo of legendary Scotland centre forward Ally McCoist and Academy Award winner Robert ‘Gordon McLeod’ Duvall.

Apart from the excellent Escape to Victory and Fever Pitch, your thinking mans football fan strives for that film which encapsulates the emotional rush of following your team, the unique connection between millionaire footballers, their managers and the terraced working class.

The Damned United
(released UK-wide on 27th March) is the film adaptation of David Peace’s excellent novel of the same name; accounting for Brian Clough’s haphazard 44 days in charge of 70s English football kings Leeds United. Playing Clough is Michael Sheen (The Queen, Frost/Nixon), while Timothy Spall and Jim Broadbent turn in performances as Clough’s assistant Peter Taylor and Derby chairman Sam Longson respectively.

Peace’s book delved into Clough’s claustrophobic mental state, reliance on alcohol and blazing boardroom rows at a frenetic tempo, so it’ll be interesting to see how the film is paced and how Clough’s sadness and helplessness caused by drink is handled by director Tom Hopper.

Shot on location in Derbyshire, Yorkshire and Majorca (Clough liked to get away every once in a while) the film has been rejected by Clough's family, who did not support Peace’s book.

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