The movie adapted from the David Peace‘s book of the same name, detailing Brian Clough‘s disastrous 44-day reign as the manager of Leeds United in 1974.
Leeds United, where at the time, the top team in the country, their manager Don Revie (Meaney) had just left them to take on the job of being England manager. Clough (Sheen) who was undoubtedly one of the best managers in football openly speaks out against Leeds – their style of playing, their ‘cheating’ and their manager but he decides to take on the job there when it becomes vacant. It’s a clash of super ego against a 1970’s super club.
Sheen is amazing, he has the chameleon like ability to transform himself into the most extreme characters and his Brian Clough is great. The look and sound and the presence of the man seems to be brought back to life.
The recreation of 60’s and 70’s football will make anyone who follows the game laugh out loud. The players smoke on the training field, the pitch is a muddy swamp that not even a Sunday league team today would play on, the back room team consists of 3 men, no physio’s or medical team. It’s a great snap shot of the game as it was at the time.
This is though, not a film solely about football, Clough was the first superstar manager of the game, a man whose ego seems to have no limits. This film does look at the frailty of the man, his first failure in managerial terms, and the need for his right hand man – Taylor (Spall), who doesn’t follow him to Leeds for the first time in their careers.
I have read the David Pearce book, and I loved it, this isn’t as good as the book (films rarely are) it is actually a more sanitised version. It is good though, good fun with great acting although I wonder if anyone who isn’t a football fan will watch it or not. They should but I doubt they will.
Director: Tom Hooper
Michael Sheen – Brian Clough
Timothy Spall – Peter Taylor
Colm Meaney – Don Revie
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