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Control (The Miriam Collection)
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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' humble Manchester origins and his rapid rise to fame, tormented battle with epilepsy, and struggles with love that led to his death at the age of 23.

In his elegiac debut, Anton Corbijn combines the music film with the social drama to stunning success. Based on Deborah Curtis's clear-eyed biography, Touching from a Distance, Control recounts the wrenching tale of a working-class lad about to hit the highest highs only to be waylaid by the lowest lows. Born and raised in Macclesfield, a suburban community outside Manchester, Ian Curtis (newcomer Sam Riley in a remarkable performance) dreams of fronting a band. Just out of high school in the mid-1970s, he finds three like minds with whom he forms post-punk quartet Warsaw--better known as Joy Division (Riley and castmates ably recreate their somber sound). All the while, he falls in love, marries, and fathers a child with Deborah (Samantha Morton, turning a thankless role into a triumph). While Curtis should be enjoying parenthood and newfound fame, he's plagued by seizures. A diagnosis of epilepsy leads to powerful medications with unpredictable side effects. Then, while on tour, he falls in love with another woman. His solution to these problems is a matter of public record, but Corbijn concentrates on Curtis's life rather than his death. Just as Control establishes a link between such disparate black and white works as fellow photographer Bruce Weber's Let's Get Lost and kitchen-sink classics like The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, the Dutch-born, UK-based director presents his subject not as some iconic T-shirt image, but as a deeply flawed--if massively talented--human being. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Customer Reviews:

  • All my failings exposed
    The 2007 film "Control" chronicles the life and brief musical career of Ian Curtis, Joy Division's doomed frontman. An epileptic whose stage performances mirrored his seizures, Curtis was also entangled in complicated personal relationships that he could not navigate successfully. His death on May 18, 1980, gave birth to yet another legend of the rock star who lived fast, died young, and left behind a good-looking corpse.

    Anton Corbijn's film exposes that myth and reveals the human cost of Curtis' fatal choice. His young wife, Deborah, penned the book on which this film is based, and we first see Ian as a schoolboy in love with Bowie and all things rock and roll. He seduces Debbie away from a fellow student, proposes marriage, and sets up a home with her, all the while penning lyrics for the music career he strives to achieve.

    The film's major strength is in these early scenes, when it's established that Ian and Debbie have a connection early on. Because that connection will be tested and ultimately betrayed when Curtis goes on the road and meets Annik Honore, the "other woman" of Ian's life.

    The film also shows the visual appeal of the band, due to their stark fashion sense and energizing live performances. Sam Riley is more than just a lookalike for Curtis; he's a skilled interpretor of Curtis' stage mannerisms and voice. The bonus extended live performances on the DVD are awe-inspiring (one wishes that more than just three of the live performances had been included). But the film is more than just "Joy Division: The Movie." It tells the story of Ian's rapid decline even as he's on the brink of success. His condition forces pills and unnatural bedtimes for a rock star on him, and his life with Debbie becomes a series of brief moments between his return from a tour and her leaving for her job. The stark greys of the black-and-white cinematography reflect not just the accepted visual style of the band (as Corbijn states, the band was always thought of in black and white, due to the way they were photographed), but shows the bleakness of Curtis' worldview as he struggled with the demands of fame, fatherhood, marriage, and illness. By the end of the film, the audience is no longer sure that Curtis' death was pre-planned at the beginning of his fantasies to make it big (a charge that Debbie makes in her book). Instead, it seems like real life caught up to his romantic notions of early death and made it seem like he had no other choice.

    The film is a great companion to Michael Winterbottom's "24 Hour Party People," an altogether more cheerful affair which nonetheless had highlights in its section dealing with Joy Division. Corbijn's humor is not absent of humor, however, and there are moments which puncuate the grimness. If you know the story of Ian Curtis, you know how it turns out; but the moments that are amusing help to keep you interested in the film.

    The movie is fair to both women in Curtis' life, and he isn't portrayed as the typical groupie-crazed rock star. Debbie grows to realize that Ian is going away from her, and she has lost him long before she finds him hanging in their kitchen. Annik is not a gold-digger but a caring, sympathetic fan, and their relationship is considerably less tawdry than it could have been portrayed. For all his faults, Ian in the film comes across as profoundly human, and unable in all his twenty-three years to come to terms with all that the world is laying on his doorstep.

    I've been a huge Joy Division and New Order fan for ten years, and I always wondered if the story of Ian's life would ever get film treatment. Now it has, and the results are worth your time even if you're not a fan. As someone who lost a close friend to suicide last year, I know firsthand the grief that Curtis' friends and family must have felt in the aftermath of his death. This film goes a long way towards healing those wounds left over from a life cut far too short. ...more info
  • Hands-down the Best Movie of 2007
    A lot of great films came out last year, 2007--No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, The Lives of Others, and so on--but I honestly can't think of a better one than this: "Control."

    This is a gorgeous and skillfully done film--all awash in silvery starkness, in luminous black and white--and all feeling so genuine and so far from anything fake or phony. I am not the suicidal singer of a New Wave band, I am not in love with a French journalist, and I do not think I married too early, but watching this, the movie really put me inside the man's skin.

    "Control" tells the story of Ian Curtis, Joy Division's ill-fated lead singer--as well as his unfortunate wife, his band, his manager, his label, and his lover--and it does so without resorting to making it a slick biopic or a phony depiction of celebrity. It is one of the realest feeling films I have ever seen, and yet it doesn't sacrifice anything compelling or filmic to be so. The story plows ahead with amazing music and a formidable drive, with scenes that are artfully shot and gorgeous to behold.

    The film's final scenes are indelible, cut forever into my mind, and the feeling the film invokes is powerful. I have never felt more genuinely punk than after seeing this--leaving the theater, I wanted to rip benches out of the ground and attack speeding cars head-on. More than that, I wanted to walk back into the theater, get another ticket, and watch it again. (I'm not really that into Joy Division either--at least I wasn't before seeing this.)

    "Control": Best Movie of 2007. And Best Music Movie in Decades. So well-made and flawlessly executed that it couldn't ultimately depress me--it could only excite me. It's amazing. ...more info
  • Excellent composition
    Sam Riley's performance definately made this movie. He is entirely convincing as Ian Curtis. The atmosphere, mood, and composition is also dead on, creating a wonderful and moving look at the early post-punk movement. I find myself agreeing with other reviewers who say that the movie could have been better...though I'm not sure what that would entail. There is, however, a lot of emotional subtley I think, and in the places where people claim that the movie "drags on", I think there is a virtue in being inexplicit about the character's struggle. I agree that this struggle could have been cut shorter, but I think the way in which the events leading up to Ian's suicide "drag on" somehow echoes the very appeal of Joy Division's music. It's dark and brooding, and it maintains the distance that is so central to Ian's tragedy....more info
  • DVD Extras Enhance This Powerful Film
    Ever since Ian Curtis, lead singer of the British band Joy Division, died in 1980, he has achieved the iconic status of an emerging artist showing signs of brilliance before meeting an early, tragic end. In Curtis' case, he committed suicide on the eve of his band's first American tour. His brief life has already been depicted on film in Michael Winterbottom's fast `n' loose look at the Manchester music scene of the 1970s and 1980s, 24 Hour Party People, but it was only for the first half of that film. Control draws most of its content from Touching from a Distance: Ian Curtis and Joy Division, the memoirs of Ian's wife, Deborah, and is directed by music video maker Anton Corbijn. He not only directed the video for their song, "Atmosphere," but also shot some of the most memorable photographs of the band, making him the ideal choice to helm this film.

    There is an audio commentary by director Anton Corbijn. With his thick accent, he's a little hard to follow at times but manages to cover the usual topics: casting choices, shooting on location, and so on. He praises the performances of Sam Riley and Samantha Morton while also pointing out technical details, like how the concert scenes where shot with hand-held cameras and everything else was done with steadicams. This track is a little on the dull side but Corbijn does impart interesting factoids and it was clearly a labour of love for him.

    "The Making of Control" takes a look at how the film came together. Corbijn moved to England because of Joy Division and took iconic photos of the band. So, he had an emotional connection to the material. His black and white photos influenced his decision to shoot the film in a similar style. The actors who played the members of Joy Division talk about the challenge of playing people who are still alive, learning to play musical instruments, and the songs. This is an excellent featurette filled with loads of interesting information.

    "In Control: A Conversation with Anton Corbijn" tends to repeat some of the information from the commentary track and the making of featurette. The director talks about how he discovered Joy Division's music and how he eventually met them. He touches upon how they shot in Ian's hometown for authenticity.

    "Extended Live Concert Performances from the Film" allows you to see "Transmission", "Leaders of Men", and "Candidate" in their entirety.

    In a nice touch, there are the videos for "Transmission," a powerful rendition done for live TV with a riveting performance by Ian, Corbijn's video for "Atmosphere" that is haunting as it was done after Ian's death, and The Killers' cover of "Shadowplay" which is surprisingly effective.

    Also included is a "Still Gallery" with photographs from the film.

    Finally, there are "Promotional Materials," trailers for the film, a blurb for Deborah's book about Ian, the soundtrack, and so on....more info
  • Extra Great
    This is a must have for anyones collection of great performers/singers/groups. This movie is shot in the most perfect way that Ian's life ever could be told.
    Jodi...more info
  • A well balanced tribute
    Control is the movie version of the book Touching from a Distance: Ian Curtis and Joy Division by Deborah Curtis. Although the movie is a kinder portrayal of the life of Ian Curtis, it succeeds in showing him as a cruel and dark person. One understands that it is from these depths that the innovation and art of the music of Joy Division comes from, yet this was no excuse for the way that he treated those who loved him. In fact, Control is more a love story than a musical tribute to Joy Division. The film contained the correct balance of dramatic and musical effect. The starkness of the black and white filming helped add to this effect. It is also useful that a lack of hero worship is given to Ian, unlike the life of many of his fallen musical sole mates. This helps one admire the music of Joy Division for what it is rather than who created it....more info
  • Control is brilliant!
    An absolute must see for fans of Joy Division and Anton Corbijn alike. Had to watch it twice right out of the box. Exceptionally well done! ...more info
  • Must-see for any fan of Joy Division, New Order, Factory Records
    There are so many reviews already, I am writing because I am moved. I have just watched the DVD from Amazon, and while I don't think it was as good as seeing the movie in the movie theater 3 times, this is not to be missed for any reason. The director saw Joy Division live and was able to incorporate the music into his aesthetic as a photographer and then movie director. As we all know, part of Joy Division's lure is the incredible marriage with the image (and at times absence of image) of the music, and how the images came to speak to all of us fans as icons of the far-reaching sounds of this incredible, divine band. The director makes a very formally-wise film, utilizing and loving up the actor transformed into Ian. Each scene is perfectly married into the story and the music. I just ordered the other Joy Division documentary under the "Miriam Collection". NO comments. Tears perhaps....more info
  • Taking all the colour out of life.
    "Control" shows many details that will jump out at anyone familiar with Joy Division's history. The young Ian Curtis wears a jacket with the word "HATE" drawn on the back. Bernard Sumner yells, "You all forgot Rudolf Hess." Ian watches "Stroszek" and listens to Iggy Pop, as he must. Yet "Control" is not really about Joy Division. There is not much music; the film makes no mention, none whatsoever, of the band's second and final album. The actors went to the trouble of learning to play some of the songs, but they can't help sounding amateurish -- if you haven't heard the songs before, you are unlikely to understand why there was anything special about them.

    Moreover, the other band members come across as louts. This provides the film's few memorable lines of dialogue, but seems unfair. Watching "Control," one might believe that Ian had no interaction with his own band. He is shown attacking Bernard in the scene that leads to his first epileptic fit, but he is never shown talking to the guys about anything. They all act quite cold to each other. They have little love of music; they think The Buzzcocks are "okay," but show no enthusiasm. Ian is shown offering his services as singer to the other guys as if he were a total stranger. One wonders why they accepted.

    Look, just because the film has Joy Division in it doesn't mean that everyone involved has to be an icy death machine. Even Tony Wilson, that charismatic bon vivant and con man, is a gloomy Gus in this film. Watch 24 Hour Party People -- it is not pleasant viewing for a Joy Division fan, but it shows the sleazy, yet exciting and adventurous atmosphere surrounding the burgeoning Manchester scene. People knew there was something good in the air, and they were excited about it. That's why they spent their free time doing it. "Control" shows none of that. Producer Martin Hannett is never mentioned by name. Instead, the spotlight shines on manager Rob Gretton, who steals the show simply by swearing a lot.

    Okay, fine, the film doesn't have to be about Joy Division. But it's not really about one man's anguish, either. The first half of the film gives the impression that the director's knowledge of dialogue and human interaction derives entirely from French New Wave films. Scene after scene consists primarily of "smoking cigarettes with existential meaning," to the point where it is unintentionally comical.

    For example, the film opens with Ian reciting a verse from "Heart And Soul," and shows him purchasing an LP. But that's all it does to show his attraction to poetry and music. Why was he interested in these things? Okay, he didn't like to show his feelings, but every earnest young man, especially one with an introverted character, has numerous pedantic opinions on rock music, and greatly enjoys holding forth on them. The film shows Ian and Deborah attending the Sex Pistols concert, but they show no interest in the music. Ian gives no sign of excitement, except perhaps some slightly more animated head-nodding. In another scene, he flatly recites from Wordsworth, one of the least edgy poets in the English language. What's the big deal, why is he interested in Wordsworth? More importantly, why do his friends listen to him? Do they view him as an authority on intellectual matters?

    The courtship between Deborah and Ian is so bizarre that it's funny. Deborah is shown to have a boyfriend; she pouts in front of Ian, who gives her no emotional cues. They both look very bored at the concert, when suddenly, they leap into each other's arms. Starting immediately, the boyfriend disappears and is never heard from again, and Ian proposes to Deborah in the very next scene. This also is peculiar. Ian, both in the film and in real life, seemed to have little taste for family life and fatherhood ("with children my time is so wastefully spent," he cruelly wrote). Yet here, he's the one who initiates every move. He proposes, and he also asks Deborah to have a baby. It is not unrealistic that a man might have an idealized view of marriage, and then become dissatisfied with the reality, but that's precisely the sort of thing you have to carefully explore if you're making a feature film.

    But here? You honestly have to wonder why the man is depressed. In the early scenes, he's a dashing mop-top with a manly chin, who wins Deborah's heart without the slightest effort. There is some indication later that he is distraught by the diagnosis of epilepsy, but this quickly takes a backseat to the love triangle with Annik Honore, which Ian himself initiates of his own free will. The only logical conclusion would seem to be that Ian always had a self-absorbed death wish, and willfully ignored his slavishly devoted wife (traces of Emily Watson in "Breaking the Waves"). Oh, and he also sang a few songs in the process.

    Toward the end, Ian laments, "I give them everything on stage and they want more." He says that no one can understand how his performances affect him. The film gives no indication, prior to this line, that this is the case. Ian's performances just seem to be a mild distraction from his usual moping; a distraction that he engages in just so he can have something to do.

    There are two possibilities. Either a) Anton Corbijn is a hack, or b) everything good about Ian Curtis had already been expressed in his music, and thus there is no point in a film about his short life. Either way, there is little reason to watch "Control."...more info
  • Indispensable but Limited
    Of the three Joy Division films available, "24 Hour Party People," Grant Gee's excellent documentary "Joy Division," and "Control," "Control" is the least fun and the most demanding. It suffers from concentrating on Ian Curtis and his final days - it moves quickly through the formation of Joy Division to the chaotic and disastrous last week of his life, exploring his final hours in some detail. So it's depressing - interesting and beautiful to watch, but it ends badly, of course. The film does justice to the onset of his epilepsy, betrayal of his young wife and baby, a love affair he can't resist, the band's new fame, ending in his suicide, all sensitively treated with taste and restraint. Anton Corbijn's photography is gorgeous and the acting is strong, but the script is minimalist to a fault. A standout is the part of Annik Honore, played by the lissome and limpid-eyed Alexandra Maria Lara. Corbijn overdoes the shots of her smiling up prettily at Curtis from the audience in concert scene after scene, but this movie makes it as clear as the docu how different she was from Curtis's everyday Macclesfield milieu. Alexandra Maria Lara also played Hitler's high-spirited secretary Traudl in the outstanding "Downfall."...more info
  • One More Life of (Not So) Quiet Desperation
    Control has some things going for it -- two very strong performances from San Riley as Ian Curtis and Samantha Morton as his wife, Debbie. It's also filmed in crisp, unforgiving black and white, calling to mind smoke-filled art house cinemas and the works they showed twenty years before Joy Division's short-lived moment. So I wanted to like it more than I did. But it's too long (doomed rock star biopics should never run more than 90 minutes) and it was hard for me at least to work up much sympathy for Curtis, who, as depicted here and aside from the medical issue of his epilepsy, created his own situation (he wanted to impulsively get married, he wanted to have a child) and then does not have the guts or the energy to either extricate himself from it or live with the consequences of his own actions and end his extramarital affair. Instead he spends a lot of time crying and feeling sorry, mostly for himself. I imagine there are lots of plumbers, stockbrokers, and farmers with exactly the same bad-decision trap as Curtis. How they deal with it might have made for a better movie, but we have Control instead because Curtis happened also to be a goofy, awkward lead singer with a frequent good lyrical bent. ...more info
  • Major depressing movie...but so well done.
    CONTROL is a movie about the legendary Ian Curtis who started the band Joy Division in the late 1970's in England. Joy Division inspired many of todays top indie rock bands such as Placebo, She Wants Revenge, Interpol, and The Killers. This movie is extremly well acted, and well directed.....probably the best rock n' roll movie since Oliver Stone's The Dooors. CONTROL is so good that it wouldn't matter if you hated Joy Division, you would still enjoy this deeply complicated rock n roll story about a young handsome and intelligent musician who had the entire world in his hands and decided to commit suicide instead. Truly one of the best movies of 2007. The DVD comes with some extra stuff like a video of "shadowplay" by The Killers, and some live footage and commentary featuring the real Joy Division. ...more info
  • incredible
    A very good movie, beautiful photography, great music!!!!! absolutely love Joy Division and it's a very good way to know about them a little more.. and about Ian.. a true poet....more info
  • Visually and Musically Striking Portrait of Joy Division's Ian Curtis.
    Dutch photographer Anton Corbijn made "Control" about the man and the band that brought him to England: Ian Curtis of Joy Division, which carried on as New Order after Curtis' death in 1980. "Control" follows Curtis' life from 1973-1980, starting with his high school days in Macclesfield with future wife Debbie (Samantha Morton), through joining a band with Bernard Sumner (James Anthony Pearson) and Peter Hook (Joe Anderson) in 1976, to Joy Division's success -having added drummer Stephen Morris (Harry Treadaway). All the while, Ian (Sam Riley) suffered increasingly from the crushing stress of the band and family, exacerbated by side effects from his medications for inadequately uncontrolled epilepsy. Anton Corbijn knew Curtis briefly, having photographed the band, so "Control" feels like a personal and heartfelt project.

    The black-and-white photography, Sam Riley's resemblance to Ian Curtis, and the music are striking. The music is actually performed by the actors, whose instruments are plugged in and microphones turned on. Riley has limited experience as an actor; he is a singer, and a darned good one for Joy Division's post-punk sound. They sound good. The gig scenes are electric. "Control" is black-and-white, because the band's visual history is almost entirely black-and-white. It's beautiful. The film is longer than it needs to be but doesn't feel prolonged. It spends time establishing Ian Curtis' ambition, talent, temperament, and then his deteriorating state of mind. Sam Riley's performance is surprisingly charismatic and sympathetic without ever being sentimental. Toby Kebbell provides some comic relief as manager Rob Gretton. "Control" is the story of a modern poet and one of the most memorable music-themed films I've seen.

    The DVD (Weinstein 2008): "The Making of Control" (23 min) interviews the director about his inspiration and decisions, the cast about playing real people, and writer Matt Greenhalgh about his process. "In Control: A Conversation with Anton Corbijn" (13 min) discusses the director's relationship with the band, his view of Curtis, and casting the film. "Extended Live Concert Performances from the Film" (9 min) offers 3 performances. "Music Videos" are "Transmission" from 1979 (3 1/2 min), "Atmosphere" (4 min) from 1988, and a cover of "Shadowplay" (4 min) by The Killers from 2007. There is a Still Gallery of 49 photos, and "Promotional Materials" include 2 theatrical trailers. The director's audio commentary is constant and informative, although Anton Corbijn mumbles a bit. He talks about locations, filming, actors, the real Ian Curtis, and the reasons behind his choices. Subtitles are available for the film in English SDH and Spanish. Dubbing available in French....more info
  • Exquisite B/W Cinematography, But Not Enough Substance
    This film is based on Deborah Curtis' biography and so this "Ian Curtis" is the Ian Curtis that she knew and Control in most respects adheres to her interpretation of his life. But it should be noted that Deborah Curtis knew but one side of Ian Curtis' story, her side. And like any other point of view that might have been chosen to tell this story, this one is limited & distorted. The writer of the screenplay is fully aware of the fact that Deborah's perspective is a limited one (as all of our perspectives are) and the screenplay makes some attempt (though not enough) to find the Ian that Deborah did not know, and that maybe no one knew. To achieve this screenwriter Matt Greenhalgh balances Deborah's own remembrance with the remembrance of other key figures in Ian's life (parents, band mates, Belgian girlfriend Annik) to give us a more rounded look at what it might have been like to be Ian Curtis. Unfortunately, these additional perspectives do not amount to as much as one would have liked them to as Ian was apparently not particularly close or open with parents or band mates. (The film rarely shows Ian interacting with either.) And the girlfriend just seems like a very pretty, very fresh, very young smiling face. Most likely the band has their own story to tell, as does the girlfriend Annik. To Deborah, Ian Curtis was a husband and so her story is one largely dominated by domestic squables. After the fourth or fifth round of domestic argument the film begins to feel like a film about marriage and not about music. The over-reliance on Deborah's perspective/biography begins to feel like a liability before the second hour of this two hour biopic begins, and the second hour is almost entirely devoted to the last moments of marital woe that, according to Deborah, sparked the final act. But there is so much more to this story than the one that Deborah has to tell. In addition to Ian the husband, there is Ian the singer and performer. And, most importantly to fans, there is the Ian Curtis that wrote some of the most austere and hypnotic and compelling rock music ever recorded. This is what is really missing form the film: a sense of where the music was coming from. Certainly some lyrics can be explained as autobiographical confessions of self-loathing and regret but some are comments and critiques on modern life.

    To listeners of Joy Division's postpunk sound what was immediately alluring was that it sounded nothing like punk. Punk was manic and Joy Division was subdued. The sound was hollow but hypnotic and the voice was full of romantic longings and yearnings for some kind of transcendence but the romantic longing was always accompanied by the feeling that there was nothing to be done with these feelings. If punk was about irreverence and having a rebellious larf in the face of authority, Joy Division was about looking for something to revere and finding that modern life gave man very little to revere. In the face of utter hopelessness, the only grace to be found was in the music itself because the music offered trance-like beauties unavailable in real life (Unknown Pleasures). To fans, Ian & the band were the rarest of things, the expression of a genuinely original sensibility/musical vision. Unfortunately, this is the part of Ian's story that Deborah has the least access to--the writer Ian and the stage Ian is someone she barely knew--, and so it is simply not dealt with. We get no sense of what music meant to Ian nor what he was looking for in it, and without some kind of understanding of the music it is very difficult to understand Ian. Instead we get a story about a relationship and a cliched one at that. Sympathetic as we are with Deborah, rock wives rarely lead happy lives, and in biopics they almost always look like obstacles to their more talented husbands artistic urges & drives. Thats true here as well. And sad as the relationship between Ian and Deborah was it is simply one part of a larger story.

    The other perspective on display here is the directors. As one might suspect from that very romantic film poster, director Anton Corbijn knows Ian as a photographic object. And, as a visual object itself, the film is primarily a chance for Corbijn to display his own considerable gifts for grim yet starkly beautiful composition. From both the still photographs that he took of the actual band circa 1980 (which should have been included in the DVD extra gallery) and from the film itself, one can understand that Corbijn felt a deep connection to Ian & Ian's unique romantic/existential sensibility and vision. As compelling and convincing as the film sometimes is, it is a work of art made by an artist that has his own ideas about what made Ian what he was and what made the music what it was. But, like all great artists, Ian was more than just the sum of his many influences (William Wordsworth, Lou Reed, Brain Eno, David Bowie, Roxy Music, Sex Pistols, Iggy Pop, Apocalypse Now, Werner Herzog...) and so no mere visual record of these influences and sources from which he drew will ever fully explain the artists own vision. Artists recognize greatness in others but the good ones always transcend their sources. Ian Curtis' true sources of inspiration are & will remain mysterious, no film can really know or show what Ian was or knew or what he felt when listening to a favorite song or reading a favorite book; no one can know what Ian was to Ian. Biopics are intriguing and frustrating because they are, at best, speculative. Though the film faithfully represents Deborah's version of things, the key moments in this life are ones that no one had any access to but Ian (how does anyone really know what he watched, or listened to, or thought in those last moments?). Faced with unknowability, it is our nature to be curious and to speculate but one should not mistake speculation for truth. As a result, the most valuable part of this DVD to those fans of Ian the artist and his formidable band mates (given short shrift in this film) will be the actual footage (not included in the actual film but included as a DVD extra along with Corbijn's 1988 video for Atmosphere and the Killers video for Shadowplay) of the real Joy Division playing Transmission. ...more info
  • VERY SLOW - Start with the new Joy Division Documentary 1st!
    I'm a Big Joy Division fan going back to the early 80's. While I can appreciate director Anton Corbijn's personal tribute to JD's lead singer IAN CURTIS, the film is just too Dark and Excessively Slow to recommend to the average viewer.

    Corbijn's stark B&W photography (He was a close friend to the original Band and held many a photo shoot with them..Their 1st two album covers were Black-then White. A third, Grey!) perfectly captures the atmosphere of dank Manchester, England in the 1970's. Sam Reilly is Amazing as Ian and mimics Ian's voice and performance mannerisms to-a-T. Samantha Morton (Minority Report, Woody Allen's Sweet & Lowdown, Elizabeth - The Golden Age) is heartbreakingly good as Ian's suffering wife. The actors playing JD band mates are noteworthy and seem to play their own instruments which certainly add to the realism. However, the film just plods on at a Snail's pace. Maybe this was the director's ploy, to depress us Slowly into Submission given the nature of Ian's illness and make us feel what Ian felt. Any solid JD fan knows that although their music could be Dark & Challenging, it was never Boring or Depressing. Although we're given very small glimpses into the creative psyche, recording and performance of the band, CONTROL is really the slight, personal story of Ian Curtis their lead singer. You'll rarely see much in the way of lengthy music clips here.

    A better place to start is Grant Gee's new documentary JOY DIVISION just released by TWC as well. It paints a much broader picture of the Band and still maintains Ian's story as its main Focus. The music and performance clips of the Band are amazing and the Doc rarely drags. It features extensive interviews by remaining band members (nka NEW ORDER) and Control director Corbjin....more info
  • Good movie
    I have been a huge Joy Division fan since I first discovered them in 1990. I was a freshman in college and my neighbor in the dorm room next to me had it playing. I had been a big New Order fan and somehow was totally in the dark about their link with Joy Division. Since then, I have tried to read and watch everything I could get my hands on about JD. This movie was very interesting and enlightening. Every JD/NW fan should watch it. I highly recommend it....more info
  • "Control" review
    My son and I loved this film. My son is a big Joy Division fan and he found this film a really good representation of the short life and career of Ian Curtis. We both were blown away by Sam Riley's performance as Ian Curtis. He was spot on in every way. ...more info
  • No Exit
    Train wrecks are endlessly fascinating, especially when the passengers are young, so talented and so full of potential. "Control" gives us the disaster everyone now sees coming. The script is based on the book "Touching From A Distance" by Deborah Curtis, wife of the late Ian Curtis. Her memories and director Anton Corbijn's eye for texture drive this rather slow, mannered take on the Joy Division story. Sitting room aridity and Euro artiness seem inevitable with this particular concoction. It's a worthwhile exercise but fortunately just one version of a music phenom's howl in the night. The recent Joy Division documentary is an essential companion piece and a must see for all devotees of the band and post-punk. Corbijn's film, on the other hand, gives us a young man who could not reconcile his hasty marriage with a compulsion to scream out his dark phantoms from the stage.

    The Dutchman's cinematography is bleak but beautiful, the end of the film, as expected, wrenching. And yet the last leap is more a relief, a kind of release, than an emotional gut punch. Curtis had an interior as grim as his surroundings, an internal landscape drained of fellow feeling by a fascination with the abomination, but the descent needs a counterpoint. Curtis had a laddishness too. When Curtis (Sam Riley) explains "Man City Blue" to his Belgian girlfriend Anik, there is a glimmer of the submerged Manc scally. The real Curtis supported a football team, drank pints, and engaged in elaborate pranks with his bandmates, all barely out of school (they were particularly fond of a turd holding challenge). The trajectory of "Control" doesn't allow for the contrast of British bluster and reserve. The film gives us only the latter, to the extreme, which in a way seems a clich¨¦. The visual acuity of the film is undeniable, however. The marital meltdown is equally powerful for its authenticity, and Riley does a very good spastic chicken dance and pale-eyed gaze to the beyond: both trademarks of a seer too soon felled. ...more info
  • Great movie, if only for just a glimpse
    This is a story about Ian Curtis and not Joy Division. It is written by the main person who was closest to him in private moments at this time in his life. There is always a difference between a book and a movie, and then between a movie and reality. I love this movie if only for being able to give me a brief glimpse into this awesome life. Sam Riley is uncanny in this role, I think that has been said over and over. Don't believe the negative hype written by people who never met the guy and make your own judgment. His daughter has his exact eyes and lips and he loved her. Beautiful movie....more info
  • Kick @rse Rockumentry
    1 Thing I got 2 Say About Control was "Kick @rse!" Because Sam Riley PLayed Ian Curtis,Lead Singer Of Joy Division Bloody good and he looked Like him and Even Samantha Morton Played His Wife,Debbie.I 1st Saw that Movie @ the Landmark Theatres Last year and I was Hooked!!!...more info
  • A Good Mope
    Ian Curtis wasn't you're typical rock star. Instead of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, you get epilepsy, broken marriage, and performance anxiety. Control, though a well made movie that avoids many pitfalls of a typical musical biopic, doesn't really get to the bottom of who Curtis really was, which might just be an impossible task.

    Sam Riley plays Curtis, the lead singer of the legendary band Joy Division. I'm probably not spoiling anything by saying that he killed himself, making himself in to a legendary rock figure. The main story centers on Curtis's struggles with his ill advised marriage at a young age, his severe epilepsy, and his affair with a Dutch woman named Annik. Riley obviously studied Curtis's mannerisms, as his awkward but strangely charismatic stage presence and his voice really stand out. He sings all of his own parts, and he does a respectable job. Curtis was not a great singer, but he did have a very distinctive voice, something that Riley emulates well.

    Watching Control, you get the sense of just how gloomy Joy Division's music really was. I've listened to Unknown Pleasures and Closer many times, but seeing the inspiration for Curtis's pitch black lyrics played out in a dreary Manchester makes them appear more palpable. You could argue that there is some mythologizing going on, but it doesn't beat you over the head like Walk the Line does. Instead, it lets the viewer put together the pieces for the most part. A good example is when Curtis see's a girl have an epileptic seizure when he's working at the unemployment office. For those who have followed Joy Division closely, you this is the inspiration for She's Lost Control. You'd have to know the lyrics of She's Lost Control to know that it's about a girl with epilepsy. There are some times though where the filmmakers hold your hand, like when they show his book collection, filled with depressing books by JG Ballard and William S. Burroughs, or when he talks about going to see Apocalypse Now. Even then, it still relies mostly on subtext to get the message across about Curtis's influences.

    One major problem I have with most musical biopics is that they rarely show anything about the creative process. There is a bit in Control, like the scene where they are recording the drum tracks for She's Lost Control. Apparently they got the odd hissing sound using a spray can. I was hoping for a more prominent role for Martin Hannett, the notoriously controlling producer of both Joy Division albums. By all accounts Hannett had a large influence on Joy Division's sound, but he's only shown for about 5 minutes. And how did they decide that the bass would take lead and the guitar would be used as a background device? Was it because Peter Hook was the best musician in the band, or was it some other reason? Of course, I'm a music nerd, so these things might not interest anyone outside of me and a few other dedicated weirdo's.

    Control is a cut above most biopics. Riley does a wonderful job as Curtis, and it offers a fairly unsparing look at his life. Curtis still remains a mystery though, and will probably stay that way forever. That's part of the appeal of his music; you can listen to it over and over and still not know what was in the creators mind.
    ...more info
  • One of the best rock bio-pics ever!
    Noted rock photographer and video maker Anton Corbijn, who had met the members of Joy Division on a couple of occasions in the late 1970s, makes his debut as a director of a feature film with his take on the life and death of Ian Curtis. (The script is based on the 1995 memoir from Debbie Curtis, Ian's wife.)

    As to the film, "Control" (122 min.) is as good a rock bio-pic that I can remember, keeping in mind that this is meant to be a film about Ian Curtis, not about Joy Division as such. Ian's struggles with epilepsy, alcohol and medication abuse, and most of all his relationship with people, including his wife Debbie, his Belgian girlfriend Annik, the band members, and last but not least, himself. As the movie goes on, and Ian's moods turn darker, it becomes more difficult to watch, because you now how it all will end. The movie is appropriately shot in black and white. The acting is outstanding, none more so than Sam Riley as Ian Curtis. Special kudos als for the four actors playing the Joy Division songs. This is not a playback or dubbed: it's the actors themselves playing the music, and they did a great job at it. I thought that Anton Corbijn did an outstanding job as well in directing this film.

    The DVD comes with a number of nice extras. In particular "The Making of Control" (23 min.) and "A Conversation with Anton Corbijn" (12 min.) are quite insightful. The "Extended Live Performances From the Film" segment is mislabeled, in the sense that it brings a mere 3 songs (Transmission, Candidate, and Leaders of Men), so it is not quite the "extension" it could have been. There are a couple of videos as well, most interesting the 1979 performance from a BBC show, which is fascinating (and underscores how well Sam Riley has "caught" Ian Curtis). In all, "Control" is a fantastic movie. It puzzles me why the movie failed to get any traction at the box office here in the US (it was released only in a couple of cities; I never had a chance to see it in the theatre here in Cincinnati). This DVD is a nice way to catch up. If you have a nice home theatre-style sound system, it will absolutely enhance your enjoyment of this film. "Control" is highly recommended!...more info
  • Excellent
    Good movie not only for the hard-core JD/NO fan, but for those who've heard the story and want the details.

    From what has been published about the JD story, this movie seems dead-on accurate. And you get an eerie look at the breakdown and fall of Ian Curtis.

    The Joy Division documentary fills in a couple of the gaps, and shows you what those around Ian felt about it all afterwards, so it's a good followup. But "Control" did a great job showing the story.
    ...more info
  • Breathtaking

    1st time Director, an unknown cast in the title role.
    Excellent supporting cast - I still smile every time I see Tony Wilson being portrayed.
    Beautiful black and white photography.

    And a heartbreaking brilliant story.

    What more do you want?

    This is a "must have" for anyone who still remembers buying "Love will tear us apart" from the Arndale Manchester....more info
  • No Love Lost, None Gained
    Ian Curtis, one of new wave's most prolific songwriters, died at the age of 23, unhappy and alone. Joy Division provided him with an outlet, but he couldn't be contained within the band. In fact, he felt alot of distance between the band and himself as if someone else were singing.

    I an made a terrible mess out of his life-had kids and got married too early, had two mistresses, and hung himself in his wife's house because he felt like a total failure, which he was.

    The film only gets 4 stars because I wanted more Joy Division music, more stage performances, and perhaps more videos of the original Joy Division(you only get three here). No mention of Warsaw, except for a performace of "Leaders Of Men", surely one of Warsaw's most superior songs, however, the title track is never sung at all. No "Warsaw"? No star. Worth seeing anyway....more info
  • subtle, well-acted docudrama
    "Control" is a biopic about Ian Curtis, the lead singer of the 1970's British rock band Joy Division, who killed himself in 1980 immediately before the group was to embark on its first American tour. The movie chronicles Curtis' early days in Manchester, the formation and rise of the band, his unhappy marriage, his serial philandering, his uncontrollable epilepsy, and his lifelong battle with depression.

    One might be tempted, looking at the bareboned detailing of his life, to ask if there is really anything new here. And indeed, Curtis' story seems to follow a fairly standard arc for the lives of artists in general and rock musicians in particular (though there doesn`t seem to be a whole lot of illicit drug use going on in this case), and as such the movie doesn't show us much of anything we haven't already seen countless times before in similar works. Yet, "Control" is so cool, understated and restrained in its handling of the material that it succeeds in drawing us into the lives of these characters in spite of the over-familiarity of the tale. The conflicts are real and the emotions raw, particularly when dealing with Curtis' rocky relationship with his wife, Deborah, who loved Ian unconditionally but could never get him to reciprocate those feelings, partly because Ian had fallen in love with a Belgian fan he met while on tour.

    In a beautifully controlled and thoughtful performance, Sam Riley poignantly captures the sadness that seems to lie ever present at the core of Curtis' being, while Samantha Morton conveys the almost desperate state of a woman too much in love to realize, until it is too late perhaps, that she isn`t receiving love in return (the Matt Greenhalgh screenplay is based largely on Deborah`s memoirs chronicling their time together). Much of the anguish Curtis went through in his life served as source material for the lyrics to many of the group`s songs, a number of which are used to provide a running commentary throughout the film. The movie also makes effective use of voiceover narration to try to figure out what is going on in that troubled head of his.

    For his impressive directorial debut, photographer Anton Corbijn has wisely chosen to shoot his film in artful black-and-white, the better to capture the starkness of the scene and the state of his character's mind. Joy Division purists may object to the fact that Corbijn has had the actors themselves perform the songs rather than dubbing in the originals, but they do a fine job overall in interpreting the pieces.

    Whether Curtis, in the long run, had a harder life than many who don't wind up committing suicide is not for us to determine. What the film does make clear, however, is that once he felt he was losing control over his life (symbolized by his constant and seemingly incurable epileptic seizures) and had pretty much made a mess of things as a husband, a father and a lover, his purpose for continuing in the struggle seemed to have disappeared. What a sad conclusion to come to, especially when one is only twenty-three years old. With subtlety and insight, "Control" movingly distills the essence of that sadness. ...more info
  • Dark clouds with silver linings
    Joy Division are a group that require little introduction to those familiar with the late-70's and 80's post-punk scene. One of the most influential rock bands of all-time, it grew out of 4 guys from Manchester in love with punk bands such as the Buzzcocks and the Sex Pistols. But rather than having a similar sound to those punk bands, Joy Division's sound was something entirely new, ushering the post-punk sound, one that combined the raw edge of punk but with gothic and dramatic tendencies. This sound would prove influential to countless 80's bands and also more recent ones, most notably "Interpol" and "Editors". The Joy Division story is a tragic one, as singer Ian Curtis committed suicide at the age of 23. The remaining members then went on to form New Order, sell 20 million albums in the process and the rest is history. "Control" is a semi-autobiographical look at Curtis' rapid rise to fame and equally fast descent into despair.

    The story traces Curtis' life from the age of 16 and beyond. A David Bowie worshipping, chain-smoking, distracted teenager, Curtis never quite fit in with the school crowd and used music and poetry as an outlet to his emotions. He married while still in high school and had a child shortly thereafter, all of this before being in the band. Then the story shows us how he met up with the other band members and their rapid rise to fame. Throughout all this, Curtis worked a day job as an unemployment office counselor and had to tend care to his wife and newly-born daughter. The struggle between being in the band and being on the road (which in itself was not quite enough to pay the bills) and his family responsibilities not to mention his epileptic condition proved to be too much for Curtis to bear and the movie concludes with him tragically putting an end to his life.

    I found "Control" to be bar none of the best movie bio-pics ever. The director's decision to make the movie in black and white is an absolutely brilliant one, as it accurately catches the essence of he band, whose artwork was always in black and white and also gives the picture the gritty feel it merits. The best part of the movie of course is the breakout performance of Sam Riley as the title character, who nails Curtis to the point of eeriness. The downcast looks, the hairstyle, the jittery movements on stage, everything is bang-on. I read somewhere that the singer of New Order had to stop watching the film midway because Riley bore too much of a resemblance to Curtis that it was scary to him. I can see why. Another star in this movie is the music. Joy Division's music is great of course, but the way the director selectively uses songs that fit the mood of what's currently unfolding on screen is remarkable.

    If I were to have one issue with this film I would have to say that the reason for some of Curtis's emotions are never really explained. Why exactly is he so depressed when he has so much to be proud of? Why did he stop loving his wife so suddenly when she never stopped loving him? Maybe Curtis proved to be so complex of a character that even he himself didn't really know who he truly was. It should be noted that this DVD offers generous extras such as a commentary track, a 20mns making-of documentary, a director interview, still gallery, promotional materials, extended live performances from the film. But the highlight would have to be the music videos, where we see the real Curtis performing on BBC and see just how much of a resemblance there is between him and the actor that portrays him. Overall, "Control" is brilliant, essential stuff for both fans and also non-fans who just want to sit through a great drama. Highly recommended!
    ...more info
  • Y'Know, Not Every Sad Life Is A Movie.....
    A biopic on the short and (I guess) somewhat tragic life of Joy Division vocalist Ian Curtis. Starting out as a pre-emo kid on the streets of Manchester up till his suicide at the age of 24, this tale shows how fame as a music star is just too much for some to handle, even when you're dealing with the smaller amounts.

    I dunno though, watching this I kept thinking that this story isn't really all that interesting or filmworthy other than the fact that it's main subject died so young. Strangely the picture takes place mostly in the mid to late 70's but it's entirely shot in black & white and seemed like the wrong choice for it, no matter if it's a sad tale or not. And even though Sam Riley is the spitting image of the late Curtis, down to his appearance and stage presence (of which I had to go to YouTube to refresh my memory of who Joy Division was like in the first place), his life story seemed too trivial and predictable for me to really care. He and the band make it quickly, he has to deal with occasional epilepsy, he marries young and has an affair/love-triangle, and finally decides to check out of life. Pretty by the numbers really, and in the end you wonder if anyone today who doesn't hate the world while wearing black mascara and dark clothes really cares. Recommended to fans of JD/Curtis or English early New Wave music.
    (RedSabbath Rating:6.5/10)...more info
  • a must see story of joy division
    anyone who lived through punk and post punk should see this movie. anton corbin has proven his worth as a true chronicler of a most important era of music. try to see depeche mode to see where it all leads....more info
  • Closer, Still, To The Bitter End
    Thankfully, a film about Joy Division and the continuing myth of its frontman, Ian Curtis, landed in the right hands. Only someone close to the band could have pulled off this masterful film, encapsulating not only Ian Curtis but the entire feel of a miserable place like late 70's Manchester, England.

    At the opening whirling, eerie sound of Exercise One, I was hooked for a lifetime. Sadly, Joy Division was the basis of too many "goth" bands that followed who never seemed to understand their punk roots. This movie, I hope and pray, will cast a dark light onto that presumption and dispel it once and for all. Joy Division were a tough band in a tough time.

    Anton Corbijn made a solid choice to shoot this film in black and white. Joy Division were a black and white band. Stark, bleak, beautiful; beyond or beneath the confusion of color. Marrying too soon, becoming too big and finding himself profoundly overwhelmed, Ian Curtis understood more about failed relationships and the futility of existence by 23 than most people will know in a lifetime. He lived a black and white life. Hope vs. despondency.

    In retrospect, the album Closer was one he could never survive. That album is a blueprint for a funeral. Yet never wallowing in self-pity, he crafted painfully honest lyrics that drive into the heart of depression. Upon seeing this film, years after reading the book Touching From A Distance, it became even clearer that his suicide was a viable option for him. His depression was severe, a US tour was the next day, his guilt about being a poor father and his two tenuous relationships were all approaching the boiling point. As in all suicides, the pain of continuing on eclipsed the fear of the dying. What was he to do? Quit and go back to working at the employment office? No. That was a fate worse than death.

    Like the book, Control does a good job of portraying Ian Curtis not wholly as a victim of his diseases. He was not the nicest guy yet you find yourself empathetic of his ordeals. Where having a child will often transform a father, the birth of his child sent him further into despair. For that, he could not forgive himself. He was not merely ashamed of his behavior but, as he wrote in the song Isolation - "I'm ashamed of the person I am." The grave was already shoveled; it was only a matter of time before he stepped in.

    I would recommend knowing and enjoying the music of Joy Division before seeing the film. It is a great film but (possibly?) one that is best taken in context. As a fan, it's fascinating to see their rise from nothing into massive. And the toll it took on everyone. It was a long wait for a great film about Ian Curtis and Joy Division and I can soundly declare, I'm glad I lived long enough to see it.
    ...more info
  • Where is the motivation?
    As a longtime Joy Division fan, I approached this film with trepidation. Knowing that Anton Corbijn is a huge JD fan eased my concerns, but the film is a bit of a mess. Yes, it looks good and the black and white photography plays to Corbijns strengths, but I kept saying to myself "If I didn't already know this story (and why is is so monumentally important) why would I care about it?" I could not identify what was motivating the characters in the movie and I think most people would have a difficult time generating much empathy for Ian. You're better off getting the recently released Joy Division documentary, which is very well done....more info
  • London Calling
    An explosive, brooding genius: Ian Curtis followed a long line of artists (Sid Vicious, Keith Haring, James Dean, Buddy Holly) who crashed and burned prematurely. Anton Corbijn's compact, masterful study of The Joy Division and its lead singer's fall is moody in all the right ways, its black-and-white palette a fitting metaphor for the hero's bleak working-class origins, the harrowing depictions of Curtis's epilepsy, his attempts to manage it through hit-and-miss drug regimens and its devastating effect on his relationships and career. But mostly it's an elegiac celebration of a sound whose influence on indy rock endures ...more info
  • it was so-so
    this movie didn't impress me. Deborah's book,"Touching From a Distance" was much better. i'd wish i had simply rented instead of purchasing the film....more info
  • A lovely, sad portrait of Ian Curtis
    Anton Corbijn has probably lived up to the old adage "A picture is worth a thousand words" a million times over, having captured photos of too many acts to mention. While he's done a number of music videos, he's more known for photography. It's fitting then that his feature directorial debut seems to stand more of a collection of photos than one single film. But don't worry, that's to the film's credit.

    The main attraction of Corbijn's direction is a stark attention to detail. As a photographer, there's one shot that has to speak volumes to viewers. Corbijn takes advantage of numerous shots to get in Ian Curtis's head. In one of the opening shots, a young Curtis, played brilliantly by Sam Riley, is seen sitting on his bead. While we hear David Bowie blaring in the background, Corbijn gives us a look around, gazing at Curtis's book collection and pictures and posters of such iconic rock stars as Lou Reed.

    As to the story, it's a very familiar one to Joy Division's fans. So familiar, that it's already appeared on film, albeit more briefly, in the brilliant comedic 24 Hour Party People. The film's appeal will be the attention put on Curtis as opposed to Joy Division as a whole. This is where the movie takes on a life of its own. Corbijn attends to such details as Curtis's lowly job in an unemployment office and continuous interactions with Curtis's wife, Deborah. Corbijn's gift as a photographer pours over on these scenes as he takes time with each scene, allowing the viewer to really absorb not only the immediacy of what is seen on each scene, but the internal emotion that is felt as well. This is the power of Corbijn at work.

    None of camera's magic would work, however, if it weren't for the brilliant performances and the intentionally spare script. The cast is led by Sam Riley, who has the uneasy task of stepping into Ian Curtis' shoes. He gets it all down to Ian's hypnotic performances on stage. Samantha Morton also packs a punch as the distraught performer's wife.

    The script is fairly direct and familiar. The pictures speak for themselves. There are no long monologues or quick witted lines of texts in the film. A lot of the drama is delivered by the camera. Corbijn, a man known for minimalism, is powerful as director in creating a portrait of one of the most iconic figures of the post punk scene. While Corbijn's photos often allow us to spend a moment with someone through his use of minimalism and candid photography, Control feels like we just spent our lives with Ian Curtis. ...more info
  • I expected more
    This film is made in black and white which immediately fosters idea that it should be treated as an art movie. It starts that was but half way thru it, it simply drags on. I did not know much about "Joy Division" and Ian Curtis, until I started reading film and book reviews about him. Surely, it is always intriguing for anyone to try to figure out what drives a person of 23 years to commit suicide, the way Ian did. Born and raised in Manchester, with no education and not much to do, he marries young, has a baby on the impulse and starts career as a singer in a local band as a way to keep himself involved with the crowd and nurtures his musical talent. He also likes to write poems so it seems natural, his attraction to the art. Until one day, Ian discovers that he is epileptic. His life is consisting of pills he needs to have around the clock in order to avoid the seizures that have devastating effect on his body and overall mental state. Tours to promote his band's material, binge drinking, late hours inside crowded clubs, hords of fans and women are adding unexpected stress to his life. Ian is unable and unwilling to tend to his wife and young child and is having mistress who is French, seemingly sophisticated and free as a person -- which is amazing to him. He starts his affair with Annik Honore almost as a way to create a new freedom for himself only to learn too soon that it is impossible to have it all. He is immature, more than he is a jerk and emotionally unstable to handle all the changes that happened to him too quickly in both his personal and professional life. Ian is troubled and there is really no one that can help him with his problems. Him committing suicide almost seems like the only available option to the complete chaos in his life. He is just too much of a burden to his own self and people around him and with his epilepsy his future is bleak anyway...I think I would like to listen to his album - his voice seems to be unique. I still need to hear his message from his lyrics....more info
    Great movie, expressing beautifully the bleak urban landscape of Ian Curtis's life, and his vulnerability as a person. Bummer that the dialogue isn't quite synched to the video....more info
  • great movie - highly recomended.
    this is a great movie about ian curtis and joy divsion. every fan should watch this film....more info
  • Beautiful and tragic
    This movie documents the beautiful and tragic life of Ian Curtis the lead singer of the band Joy Division. I already knew the story of Ian Curtis' death on the eve of Joy Division's American tour, so I watched the movie already knowing how the story would go.

    What makes this movie so great is the focus on the details from Ian's wife. I felt I gained more insight into how he dealt with his epilepsy and what compelled him to write music. The cinematography was beautiful in black and white. The concert scenes looked very authentic to actual live videos I have seen of the band. I thought the actors did a brilliant job representing the characters from one of my favorite bands....more info
  • Life in a Northern Town
    It's a long time since Ian Curtis's solemn laments of thwarted love have hit my turntable. And in spite of the longevity of Joy Division's successor, New Order, I confess that the demise of Curtis, an authentic Rock tragic, singled the demise of my interest in their music. What explanation is there for an attraction to talent extinguished prematurely; the titillation of having glimpsed, sometimes stared at some gift that was squandered? In many instances, and Curtis's is among them, early, meteoric talent most likely was fufilled...fatalism was written into it, the biography and art in perfect tandem. Their music already sounded as if it was rising from the grave, a severly cold other place. That's what the popular press has continued to feed us over the ensuing decades. In this sense Corbijn's film is no exception. You buy the Q magazines or NME, whatever, for some fresh insight to such legends. But there isn't any. The film's script has been anticipated in the music; alienation of the inner, poetic self from the cramped and dour quotidian life of cramped, urban, Macclesfield. The band's public image, as per Corbijn's recreation has been honorably projected, mesmerizingly so by Sam Riley...the entire slow surge of its black and white cinematography inexorably, hauntingly moving toward the last gasp in that sad little kitchen. The acting is so convincing that you often feel it's a documentary rather than an interpretation. There is no sensationalism to be found in Curtis's life or death. For all its Doors-like anthemic sound, Curtis was no aspirant Jim Morrison....more info
  • Good production. Slacker subject.
    The movie technically is very good. My dismay with the subject material, however, grew throughout the film to dim my impression of the whole movie. I was looking for redeeming qualities in Ian Curtis but did not find many to speak of. He was a good musician, but a lousy, amoral husband and father. I have heard the music of Joy Division, but I am less impressed today. ...more info
    I love love love this movie. It is so beautifully made that even though you know he dies at the end, you don't want to believe it. You get a better insight of the dilemma he faced, and a better glimpse into the workings of his mind. I highly recommend buying it! ...more info
  • Spine Tingling
    I am an admitted Joy Division fan just to put that out there first off. And the true story is an easy dramatic starting point for a film to be based on for sure. But the directing, acting, editing, and cinematography quality from this pic simply blew me away. I was not expecting such care for detail and razor sharp precision yet artistic vision from a first time director (the famous photographer Anton Corbijn) and mostly unheard of cast. Yes at the least Mr. Sam Riley should have earned an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Ian Curtis, no doubt about it. Samantha Riley is indescribably excellent as his wife Deborah, these two roles could not have been done better. The best complement I can give Control is that it captures the environment and 'atmosphere' of Ian Curtis's world like a dream.
    ...more info
  • Wow
    This movie was spectalular. I was very impressed by the actor's portrayal of Curtis. He was phenomenal. Every Joy Division fan should see this movie. If you ask a lot of people if they have ever heard of this band you will get a lot of no, who, never heard of 'em. But Joy Division continues to inspire performers of many different genres. Its amazing how many people love songs like Shadowplay from The Killers or Dead Souls from NIN (The Crow soundtrack), but have no idea that these are Joy Division songs. The old saying, the good die young, no matter how cliche, continues to ring true. ...more info
  • As disembodied as the music, yet beautiful to watch
    Biopics are usually very dull and drag their feet getting to the core of the story that matters rather than what the director uses to assume credibility or closeness to the source. This is not one of those movies because you never connect with Ian to feel like you have any connection at all, nor do you get a sense of chronology by music, lyrics, or anything else that made us drawn to the movie.

    You watch a very beautiful picture show. At times unflattering to the 90 seconds we get of Sumner's dialogue, and in general, the actors seem a little peeved they are even in the movie, but honest to a fault since given the writer's apathetic take and connection to the subject, "that is what it was like" we are left to assume. There are many things missed and the band aspect could be substituted for just about any job, as the music and gigs are atmosphere and not plot with the emphasis on Ian only showing up to sing, and not pouring out emotions in to writing his lyrics. I am left wondering what was left out or what the writer was thinking some 20 years on leaving the cast and story to be told out of memories that were not so clear or maybe the director, an extremely talented photographer, was making a movie out of a romanticised notion going over at 24 frames per second shots he wished he could have taken at the time.

    Simlarities to the Doors can be made, but here, Ian's life is not made glamorous. We do sort of miss the point though, you feel as shut out by him as his wife must have felt, and yet even some more token performances and chronology could have helped us fans put the songs in to perspective since if this was a movie about some steelworker, we would not have watched it. We watched this because it was about Ian, the lead singer of Joy Division, but yet I appreciate that it was not a music video with liner notes stitching his life together....more info
  • Control: The Short, Unhappy Life of Joy Division's Ian Curtis.
    Based on Deborah Curtis's book, Touching from a Distance: Ian Curtis and Joy Division, Anton Corbijn's fascinating and informative black-and-white film, Control (2007), chronicles the short, unhappy life of Ian Curtis (1956-1980), from his pursuit of art and literature at age 17 (while obsessed with David Bowie), to attending a Sex Pistols' show in 1976 (where he met Joy Division bandmates, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, and Terry Mason), to his contributions as lead singer and lyricist for that brilliant post-punk band (which he joined the same year), to his May 18, 1980 suicide at age 23. Corbijn, who is perhaps best known for directing videos of Depeche Mode, U2, and The Killers, cast an unknown actor, Sam Riley, to play Curtis, and Samantha Morton to play the part of of his wife, Deborah Curtis. Curtis married Deborah in 1975, while they were just teenagers. They soon had a daughter, Natalie, in 1979, while Curtis was also working as a civil servant at a Job Centre in in Manchester and performing with the Joy Division at night. In his spot-on portrayal of Curtis, Riley not only resembles Curtis in his appearance, but in his portrayal of Curtis's quiet, awkward demeanor. For the role, Riley masters Curtis's unique dancing style while performing (reminiscent of the epileptic seizures Curtis was known to experience, sometimes even while on stage). Beautiful Alexandra Maria Lara plays Curtis's extramarital lover, Belgian journalist Annik Honor¨¦, the possible inspiration for the Joy Division hit single, "Love Will Tear Us Apart." Corbijn's film conveys all the existential angst, emotional isolation, alienation, and urban degeneration of his subject's short life. The film's dark, final scenes depicting Curtis drinking (on the eve of his first U.S. tour), while watching Werner Herzog's 1977 film, Stroszek, and listening to Iggy Pop's The Idiot, all the while contemplating hanging himself are profoundly haunting. Although this film will appeal to anyone with an interest in Joy Division, it deserves a much wider audience for its mesmerizing character study of a troubled young post-punk artist.

    G. Merritt ...more info
  • Gloom and doom to perfection
    I became a Joy Division fan long after the fact. I was a New Order fan after hearing Temptation and then rushing out to buy Blue Monday after seeing them perform it on TOTP for the first time. My friend Mooncat introduced me to 'both bands'.

    25 years later - we are viewing rock history as interpreted by people who are closer to what actually happened at the time.

    This is a beautiful film. Yes - Curtis is legend, as are the rest of the band. This film (and yes - I have read the book) gives a good portrayal of what it is to be to be working class English, with ambition and with flaws. All of the performances are powerful - Sam Riley does a good job (though I felt he looked more like Stephen Morris), and the actor playing Rob Gretton is fantastic. Comedic relief while at the same time giving the sense that he had some control over the band. Kudos by the way for learning to play your instuments for the roles and reform for a long overdue Joy Division concert at Cochella !!!

    My criteria for a movie is - does it move me ? At the end of the film I was almost in tears. My wife was. I am sentimental towards Joy Division and "Atmosphere" is the perfect song to induce this feeling. Was it just the song - no. The movie is perfectly cast, directed and should win bucketloads of awards but it probably won't due to lack of distribution.

    If you have any desire to watch a music biography - this is the film. If you care to enquire about post punk - this is the film. Beautifully written, shot and performed. A must for my DVD collection. ...more info
  • great movie - highly recomended.
    this is a great movie about ian curtis and joy divsion. every fan should watch this film....more info
  • Ian Curtis - a portrait
    If you're a fan of Joy Division, you've already seen 24 Hour Party People. That movie was a funny biopic of Tony Wilson, founder of Factory Records - Joy Division's label. The JD story was told there, and Ian Curtis's brief life was touched on. Control is a serious, and much more thoughtful look at Ian's life and death. This movie is based on the book "Touching From a Distance" (penned by his widow Deborah) and sticks closely to it both factually and thematically. The Ian seen here isn't the legend he later became; here he is a figure of great talent - and greater flaws.

    Sam Riley, in his first lead role, portrays Ian with a mimicry that's almost creepy. (Don't believe me? Watch his performance of the song Transmission, then watch the original Joy Division performance included in the extras.) Kudos to him and the other actors for actually performing the Joy Division songs themselves, rather than lipsyncing. They pull it off admirably.

    As to the movie itself, it's shot beautifully in black and white. This is Anton Corbijn's first feature-length film, and he did a great job with it. While this certainly isn't a happy movie, it's well worth seeing - whether or not you're a fan of the band. Beautiful images, good storytelling, and great performances - they're all here. If you really like the movie, do yourself a favor and read Deborah Curtis's book Touching From A Distance....more info
  • "Too" biography, lack of the mood
    Honestly I am disappointed when I finally got to see this movie (you, US distributors, are so miserably slow in the age of piratical downloading, but I did watch it on a brand new DVD!). I've been a huge Joy Division fan for many years, so I knew the story well before the movie that is based on Deborah Curtis' memoirs. That may be the part of reason why I had expectations about this movie, especially after raving reviews and the fact that, unlike many people, the film director knew Ian Curtis personally, took pictures of the band and directed the first art video of Joy Division, Atmosphere, in 1988.

    "Control" is not a beautiful, poetically austere film that some people may have expected after the exuberant mess of "24 Hour Party People". It's not carved out of marble, there are no pulsar waves that electrify your emotions. It is literally a story of a young man who married early, had poetic gift, was inspired enough by music to become the frontman of a rock band; who had a child, a love affair and epilepsy; and that isn't mystic, right? But the aureole of Joy Division's MUSIC and TRAGEDY is so overwhelming that you suspect a different kind of approach. You don't get it here, apart from the first and last scenes - which are the best: starting with a quiescent man (Curtis) sitting in a bare room while a poetic extract is being recited over; and ending with shots of the smoke ascending high to the sky from the crematorium chimney. Ian Curtis is certainly not a holy man, but the music he left behind offers you additional insight that could have been added to the mood of the movie.

    Yes, it's filmed in black in white but this monochrome doesn't evoke any emotions, especially when the director attempts to reveal the hopeless grayness of the 70s Manchester and Curtis' and his bandmates' lives.

    The casting is topnotch, even little characters are given scrupulous attention (all of a sudden you see Herbert Gr?nemeyer from "Das Boot" and then John Cooper Clarke, a poet who was part of the original punk scene). The actors play superbly, taking in consideration that recreating the sound and stage presence of the portrayed band is very hard. The best play belongs to Toby Kebbell (Rob Gretton), the worst - to Craig Parkinson playing a cringeworthy Tony Wilson. Yet the movie misses something, misses the overall idea of what movie is about - apart from being a biography. A lot of people would point out that it is a biography, but "real" biographies are found in books, documentaries, this is a feature film, cinema art, first of all. "Control" came out too schematic with too literal exposure of certain ideas (the director's comments reveal those ideas and their implementation). Here I cannot help comparing "Control" to Oliver Stone's "The Doors" for both films had the similar sources of inspiration. However "The Doors" were more intriguing and more revealing about the music and time.

    If you want to get an everyday biography of Joy Division, you may like "Control", but even better first watch "JOY DIVISION", the new documentary made with as much art as a feature movie. For me "Control" lacks the mythical substance that is part of Joy Division....more info
  • Stark Biography
    Corbijn's talents as a photographer and music video director lend themselves perfectly to this biography, as it's stark cinematography and haunting music certainly overshadow it's lackluster script. Fortunately, Riley's breakthrough performance and Kebbell's bombast more than compensate for the film's few (but noticeable) lapses in narrative. (8/10)...more info