Musicians have long proven to be a well of inspiration for film makers, and so it proves again with director Anton Corbjns telling of the story of Ian Curtis and Joy Division, Control
Based on the book of the same name, the first of Control's many successes is to make prior knowledge of the subject matter unnecessary. And while music is an important part of the film, the movie ultimately focuses in on the relationship between Curtis and his wife, Deborah. Its a moving and emotional rollercoaster, and one realised with exceptional skill and grace by Sam Riley and the ever-astonishing Samantha Morton in the lead acting roles. The former is someone very much to watch, the latter is surely long overdue an Oscar.
Credit too must go to director Corbjn, though, who builds up Control with diligence and discipline. He shapes a musical biopic that distinguishes itself from its numerous contemporaries, and while it perhaps doesnt spend enough time with the Joy Division side of the story, its a film thats otherwise hard to fault.
Control, ultimately, not only managed to sidestep many of the contrivances of the genre, but it also offers a raw, electric and emotional experience, and proved to be one of 2007s finest films. Dont miss it. --Jon Foster
Based on the memoir TOUCHING FROM A DISTANCE by Deborah Curtis, Anton Corbijn's CONTROL is as near perfect a filmic telling of the story of Joy Division and Ian Curtis as any fan could hope for. It's also a beautifully rendered piece of cinema about the crippling effects of love and regret, and the salvation we seek in art. Born out of England's post-Sex Pistols punk explosion, Joy Division played a dark, minimalist version of the nascent sound, and became cult heroes thanks in part to their brilliant yet disturbed frontman Ian Curtis (played by an eerily perfect Sam Riley). Corbijn does a wonderful job recreating the Manchester band's music and live show, cutting straight to the essence of Joy Division's unique appeal. Credit must also be given to the three actors who portray the rest of Joy Division. Playing all the instruments themselves, they perfectly capture the band's powerfully stoic presence, one that translates both live and on record into the sonic equivalent of an existential crisis.
CONTROL, however, is ultimately about Curtis' tumultuous marriage to his wife, Deborah (Samantha Morton), and the way that Joy Division became an aesthetic manifestation of his pain--one that was both physical (Curtis was an epileptic) and emotional. Corbijn evokes Curtis' hurt and isolation with both honesty and subtlety; a photographer originally, he frames each shot to look like a stark black-and-white photo from an album the audience was never meant to see, making Curtis' pain palpable and his eventual suicide that much more tragic. The overtones to the later suicide of Kurt Cobain are hard to avoid, but where Cobain's suicide has always been discussed in terms of the pressure he felt as a rock star, Curtis', as rendered by Corbijn, is a pain anyone could potentially be forced to suffer through.