Synopsis: The Tragic Tale of the Singer of Joy Division

“Perfectly attuned to the raw pulse of late -70’s post-punk” (Troy Patterson, Spin Magazine), Control tells the remarkable story of Ian Curtis, lead singer of the influential band Joy Division and one of the most enigmatic figures in all of rock music.

Based on his wife’s memoir, Control follows Curtis’s humble Manchester origins, his rapid rise to fame, tormented battle with epilepsy, and struggles with love that led to his death at the age of 23. Starring Sam Riley in an acclaimed breakout performance and Samantha Morton as his teenage bride, Control is “a stunning look at the head-spinning, tragic world of a gifted musician” (Pete Hammond, Maxim).

Control 8.0

The last time I rated the film I gave this a 7.0. I also didn’t comment on it. So let’s rectify a few things while we can.

I was underwhelmed the first time around. I remember that very clearly. I don’t know if it was the source material (the DVD had this hard-to-ignore blooming effect throughout!), the conditions (2 years have passed since!) or if it was simply a question of different expectations.

I’m going to put my money on the latter, mostly. I think that expectations are everything when you go into a movie. At the time, I was thinking: “one of my all-time favourite artists and one of my all-time favourite music video directors. This is going to be awesome”.

Thing is, what I failed to consider is that Anton Corbjin, the director, wouldn’t probably use his vast array of peculiar and surreal visual imagery to do a docu-drama of a band he respected highly; as a fan, he wanted to be faithful and depict the story as accurately and respectfully as possible.

It was possibly the correct choice, but it left the film with a less artistic edge than I had anticipated. And, thus, I found it less appealing right from the start. Add to this the fact that this is pure drama and you’ve got me hobbled. Sure, there’s music, but this is the story of Joy Division’s lead singer, and he wasn’t a happy feller – so you are hardly lifted on a rainbow of joy.

But, looking at it now, with a completely different set of expectations, I was able to enjoy the film for what it is: a solid, well-crafted film filled with terrific performances (the actors playing Joy Division alone were brilliant, but there are quite a few notable ones, such as Samantha Morton’s Debbie and the guys playing Rob Gretton and Tony Wilson).

Now I’d obviously recommend it to fans of Joy Division (and music in general), and to those who can handle the heaviness of bleak drama. It does have a lot going for it after all.

What do you think?

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