The Damned United

Rated 4.0

One of the best films from 2009 that failed to receive a Sacramento release, Tom Hooper’s British soccer biopic The Damned United has a second chance to connect with American audiences on DVD. It’s an adaptation of David Peace’s “fictional biography” about coach Brian Clough’s notorious six-week reign as head of his hated rival Leeds United, and his longtime rivalry with their legendary coach Don Revie. Screenwriter Peter Morgan and star Michael Sheen have made a cottage industry crafting atypical profiles of modern British men, starting with Tony Blair in The Queen and David Frost in Frost/Nixon, and the lithe and entertaining The Damned United is their richest collaboration yet. Sheen’s Clough quivers with ruthless ambition, sneaky charm, brazen directness (he accuses his players of “cheating” at their first practice), and a stubborn, easily bruised narcissism that proves ruinous.