The Damned Utd – Review (Film)

The Damned Utd is based on the novel of the same name which, though fictional, tells the story of Brian Clough’s short reign as Leeds Utd manager in the 1970’s.

I enjoyed the film a lot and the way they handled both showing archive footage and creating their own was really clever.

The problem I have is that the film contains ‘real people’ (Brian Clough/Don Revie/Peter Taylor) but puts them in fictional scenarios in real life events.

It’s confusing for instance to see Clough go back on his word to manage Brighton and take the Leeds job when in reality “Brian Clough did not accept the job at Leeds United whilst on holiday in Majorca after accepting the Brighton & Hove Albion Job. He left in October 1973 and went on to manage Brighton for 32 games with little success, finishing 19th in the old Third Division and losing to non-league Walton & Hersham 4-0 in the FA Cup.” (Wikipedia, link at bottom of review)

And that kind of ruined The Damned Utd a little bit for me, which is a shame because it’s a wonderful effort from all involved.

The three main actors Michael Sheen (Clough), Timothy Spall (Peter Taylor) and Colm Meany (as genius as ever in his role as Don Revie) put in stunning performances and make the entire thing so believable at times it was almost like watching a documentary.

And maybe that’s where the problem lies with regards to the factual issues.

The Damned Utd makes you believe all this happened by pretending to be a historically accurate film (or at least not properly mentioning it’s a work of fiction) and it stings a little to find out the story has been spun to fit in with the direction of the novel/film.

Definitely worth seeing as an entertaining film but, regardless of the impression it gives, bear in mind a lot of what you’re watching didn’t actually happen – or at least didn’t happen in that context.

Rating: 8/10


For more info on the inaccuracies of the film see here.

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