Control (2007)

A movie about a talent that was gone way before his time.

Sam Riley stars as Ian Curtis, the troubled Joy Division singer whose personal, professional and romantic battles ended in suicide at age 23. Rock photographer Anton Corbijn’s directorial debut chronicles Curtis’s life in stylish black-and-white, faithfully re-creating the mood of the British post-punk scene circa 1980. Samantha Morton co-stars as Curtis’s wife, Debbie.

For me, I like the band Joy Division. I thought all their music, ideas, everything about them were just very influential, and its certain I can say they are just a great band for the time they were around. But most of the attention and greatness came from their lead singer Ian Curtis, who was the Kurt Cobain before Kurt Cobain, and its great to see how you can see how much a person life can actually change just by one episode of problems.

The problem with this movie is not so much a problem with the film, more of the music itself. People who see this movie that are not familiar or fans of this new-wave music, will find this to be bleak, depressing, and very long. And there actually not incorrect, because at times I do feel like the film does add a lot of bleakness into the film for no reason. But I can’t recommend it too much for non-fans of this music. I also, wish there was less fighting with his wife, and more of the creative side of Curtis, instead of the hissy fighting side.

Other than those problems I was totally intrigued by the film. The black and white look of this film fits perfectly with the film cause it captures the essence of tone of the setting at this time, and mostly everything that was going on in Curtis’ mind. Its not your traditional rock movie too, its pace is sort of mild, never really getting totally energized up, and there is a lot of quiet in this film that you don’t see too much in rock biopics, but it is still used so effectively. The music is also actually played by the singers themselves, and it gives the film that authentic feel that it needs to work, and you feel almost everything your seeing is actual footage.

Most of the praise in this review has to go to unknown actor Sam Riley. Riley goes into this character and not once did I think of him as anyone else than Curtis. He is emotional when he has to be, without over doing it, and when it comes to showing the artsy and performance side, he can belt it out like no other. I felt like the concert scenes were so close to the real thing, that I think even Curtis in his grave, has to give that a couple of claps. Morton, as always, is great here, and gives more heart in this film than you would expect, and the scenes with here and Riley seem genuine.

Consensus: Though some of those unfamiliar with Joy Division may think of it differently, Control still is a genuine piece of art, that connects fully to the real-life Ian Curtis, with its great direction, and larger-than-life performance from Riley.


One comment

  1. Hi Dan,

    I’m a big fan of Joy Division and while I thought the film was good and I liked Sam Riley’s performance. The one problem I had with the film was that I kept thinking of 24 Hour Party People which I thought was a much better film. Even had someone who I thought did a better job in playing Ian Curtis as well as Steve Coogan as Tony Wilson. I try not to compare one film to another but it was something I did have a hard time with when I saw Control. I liked Anton Corbjin’s approach to the film. I just couldn’t escape Michael Winterbottom’s film and how he and Frank Cottrell Bryce portrayed Curtis and the whole Manchester music scene.

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