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July 19, 2008

Control

The most recent film we saw at home was Control, starring Samantha Morton and Sam Riley, directed by Anton Corbijn, a former photograher who occasionally worked with the band.


I thought Control a very thoughtful, evocative and even beautiful film, not at all the usual music biopic with the accompanying predictable cliches. However the story of Joy Division is anything but a cliche. I have to admit I was unfamiliar with the music of Joy Division, except for 'Love will Tear Us Apart," so was pleased with the dramatic, vaguely German austerity of the music, which also, according to the director's comments, clues the viewer in to the story all during the narrative. Sometimes, though, the music seemed to resemble the Doors so much that it did not seem all that original to me, except for the unusual bass guitar.


Mr. Riley gives a fine performance as Ian Curtis, the lead singer and lyricist of Joy Division, a kind of ethereal tortured soul of the most English gothic/Romantic kind. The fact that Mr. Corbijn chose to shoot the film in high contrast black and white only adds to the otherworldly effect. At the same time, you get a feel for the grittiness of life in Manchester in the mid-70s. There are scenes of real beauty and haunting images that I think are augmented by the grittiness, as would be the case in real life. If you are surrounded by constant loveliness, does it not spoil you a little?


Also, Mr. Curtis' lyrics, poems, and portions of his letters are put to good use as voice overs to advance the mood and narrative of the film. The advancement of the band is almost a side story, but since it seems to be a biography of Mr. Curtis, that does not seem unreasonable. The screenplay, by Matt Greenhalgh, is spare and respectful as well.


No spoilers here, just see the movie. Also, there seems to be a documentary of the band coming soon. Here is a trailer: