Newt Gingrich, you'll recall, shut down the federal government because Bill Clinton made him use the back door of the plane. Depending on whom you ask, the stakes aren't quite so high in the marvelous British sports film The Damned United, but like the Gingrich story, this movie likewise warns us that grudges can lead to disaster.
The Damned United focuses on the unfriendly relations between a couple of real-life soccer coaches. As the film begins in 1974, the coach of the winning Leeds United, Don Revie, has been tapped to coach the English World Cup team. I'm a closet Trekkie, and I was delighted to watch Colm Meany, who played engineer Miles O'Brien in a couple of Star Trek series, as Revie.
Replacing Revie is the brash Brian Clough, who trashes Revie in the media and insults the Leeds team by telling them their victories under Revie are meaningless, because he coaches dirty. Clough is played by Michael Sheen, whom I admire for the intelligence of his work in films like The Queen and Frost/Nixon. His Clough is a complex character, a gifted sportsman whose longstanding resentments compromise his judgment and disrupt his career.
What's the problem? We learn in flashbacks that some years earlier, Revie snubbed Clough. And that's all, but the snub informs seemingly everything Clough has done since. His anger is a powerful motivation for winning, but sometimes it causes him to make mistakes. And he doesn't seem very happy. Such is anger.