3.5, Europe

The Damned United

2009 / Tom Hooper > Contrary to most expectations, this isn’t about Manchester United. It’s about the United that used to be the talk of the show before Alex Ferguson paid off the referees: Leeds. Starring Michael Sheen, whose performances in The Queen and Frost/Nixon has made me believe he’s one of the most under-appreciated actors of today (even before discounting Underworld), The Damned United tells the story of Brian Clough, a cocky, hot-headed manager who takes Derby County and Nottingham Forest to the highest levels of football. The whole show is completely and utterly enjoyable, especially if you’re appreciate the competitiveness present in professional sports. The interplay between Sheen and his fellow actors, including an especially swell performance by Timothy Spall (of Wormtail in Harry Potter fame) is especially touching. Walking away, it does feel a bit too neat at the end. Hard to fault Hooper for his choice of time period to portray, but some things (like Clough leading Nottingham Forest to back to back Champions League wins) feel too important to leave out at the same time.