What's that? A sports movie without a bunch of tired cliches about coming together? A soccer movie that's about how much a coach sucked? Michael Sheen in a comedo-dramatic role? A new Peter Morgan script that redeems Frost/Nixon?
Yes, The Damned United is one hell of a sports movie. Like all Morgan's scripts, it's a behind-the-scenes dramatization of the facts that wisely stays off the field in chronicling Brian Clough's 44 day stint as coach of the Leeds United in 1974.
This is the Michael Sheen I've been dying to see since The Queen. His performance as Clough is magnificently no-holds-barred. It's funny as hell and breakneck. Director Tom Hooper (the guy who did the whole John Adams series) is smart about putting sequences together. He's just the right amount of flashy and he knows how to frame and lens.
I don't know enough about soccer to really "get" the movie, but Morgan is great with the stream of information and developing his lead. It's his best since The Queen. Very textured sports film that's hushed but not drowned out. Thankfully it's not a sappy mess about a team. Thankfully it's about an idiotic coach, and thankfully it's not about redeeming him.