Directed by Anton Corbijn
Starring: Sam Riley, Samantha Morton, Alexandra Maria Lara
Anton Corbijn is best known for his music video work. Chances are if you have seen any videos by Red Hot Chili Peppers, Depeche Mode or U2, you have seen his work. Being a big Joy Division fan, I couldn’t wait to pop this film about the band and its troubled lead singer Ian Curtis into the player. The Weinstein Company’s The Miriam Collection recently released Control on DVD.
Control begins as the audience is introduced to the reclusive and painfully shy Ian Curtis trotting home after buying the most recent Bowie album. Curtis was a big fan and as local boys shout for him to join him in a game of soccer, he ignores them. He is simply in his own world and cannot wait to get his precious vinyl on the turntable as fast as he can.
When he gets his nerve up, he shares some of his morose poetry with some friends. One of his mates has a girlfriend he fancies, Deborah (Samantha Morton). They soon are together and wed right out of high school.
Curtis takes a government job at an employment agency and one day, he runs into friends Peter and Bernard. They are looking for a new singer and Ian tells them he is what they are looking for. The band soon changes their name from Warsaw to Joy Division and it won’t be long before musical history is made.
Before long, Joy Division has a big following. Deborah announces she is pregnant. And if that wasn’t enough, Curtis has a violent seizure and discovers he suffers from epilepsy. Things aren’t looking good for Curtis. Just as his band is taking off, his home life and health take a turn for the worse.
Being a husband and father isn’t a good fit for Curtis. He loves Deborah, but can’t seem to make the commitment while the siren of rock and roll calls to him day and night. He is distracted and the combination of drugs his doctor prescribes barely keeps his fits at bay.
He meets Belgian reporter and fan Annik and begins a sad and desperate affair with her while Deborah tries desperately to hang onto to her young husband so that she can keep her family together.
Joy Division keeps getting more popular as Curtis spirals more out of control .When their manager announces they are getting an American tour, his bandmates are over the moon. Curtis just feels more desperate as the clouds darken over his heart and mind.
If you are a fan of Joy Division, you know how the story ends. But for those who don’t know the story of Ian Curtis and Joy Division, I will let you discover it on your own.
Sam Riley’s performance as Ian Curtis is remarkable. He has Ian Curtis’s stage presence absolutely perfected. It is a remarkable performance that cannot be missed. Samantha Morton continues to impress anytime she is cast in a film. She should be seen a lot more in films. The black and white cinematography suits the gloomy English skies perfectly.
Control is an absolute must see for any fan of the band. But, it is also a great film for those who might discover Joy Division’s music for the first time. This film can be enjoyed as just telling the story of Ian and Deborah and their struggles to make their relationship work.
Joy Division fans, put this movie in your DVD collection. Everyone else, at least add it to your Netflix queue.
Control is presented in widescreen. The black and white photography looks crisp and I did not notice any instances of grain or artifacts.
Control is presented in 5.1 digital surround in the original English Language with optional subtitles. Every note of the music sounds great and the dialogue is clear and easily understood.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
Control is presented in a cardboard slipcover with a standard amaray case with a nicely subdued picture of Sam Riley’s portrayal of Ian Curtis.
There are some nice bonus features to explore on this release. First up, Anton Corbijn offers an audio commentary to accompany the film. He also has a video interview as well.
Next up is a making of featurette and uncut performances of the actors performing three Joy Division songs live.
Also offered are three music videos, two for Joy Division, one of which Anton Corbijn created after the passing of Curtis and a remake of “Shadowplay” by the Killers. A collection of photo stills is also offered.
All things considered, a nice selection of bonus features to accompany this great indie film.
Overall (Not an Average) 7.5/10
The Movie 8/10
The Video 7/10
The Audio 7/10
The Bonus Features 7.5/10
Overall (Not an Average) 7.5/10