June 26, 2010

Movie Review: Damned United

The film Damned United (2009) did not make a big stir in the United States. That's because the events it covers were not big events in American culture. Rather, these events were important to our Brit neighbors. They love their football (soccer to us) like we love basketball and American football.
The movie is about Brian Clough (Michael Sheen), a coach that took his original team, Derby United, from the bottom of the 2nd division to the top of the 1st division. He took Derby United from a team with no game to a team with game to spare. In fact, after a time, his team beat THE team to beat, Leeds United. 

But back up, because we don't know how important that is until we know that before Clough raised his team from the ashes, Clough idolized Leeds United and their coach, Don Revie, until Revie snubs him by not shaking his hand at a game on the home turf of Derby. We see Clough, ecstatic that Revie is coming. He carefully scrubs every inch of the away team's showers, places an orange on top of each towel as a gesture. He carefully places two wine glasses and a bottle of wine on his desk, envisioning the perfect toast between two coaches. And then, to have Revie walk right past him without even a howdy do was the ultimate diss, which Clough carried around with him like a cross he had to bear.

After Revie retires, Clough is offered the position of Leeds United coach. Just think--he could coach his arch rival team and mentally castrate the players he used to love to curse on the field. Well he takes the job and is employed for only 44 days. Because the situation spirals completely out of control. And the story and Clough's legend is unfurled in a lovely lazy way.