Control (15)

Film

Drama

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Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
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Time Out says

Mon Oct 1 2007

There’s already been so much said, written and broadcast about Joy Division and the Factory Records story that you could be forgiven for not having the patience to wade through yet another chapter in the story of Tony Wilson and the rest of the gobby cast that strode the Manchester stage of the ’70s and ’80s. From ‘24 Hour Party People’ to the recent coverage of Wilson’s death to a new documentary on the box only the other week, this tale of bands, big egos and bad business sense has an appeal way beyond its roots. The photographer Anton Corbijn has now added ‘Control’ to the throng, and his contribution – a black and white study of the life and death of Ian Curtis – is more sombre and grounded and less playful than the comic spins we’ve come to expect. Watching the film, one is left with a sense of Ian Curtis as the subject for an intense photographic study as much as a figure ripe for probing drama. There are plenty of shots of Curtis walking down the street or smoking a fag or looking out of windows. The film’s real energy and excitement are in the live scenes, which are unfussy, extended and electric.

Suicide and the lives of artists are two of the toughest subjects for cinema to grapple with, and ‘Control’ squares up bravely to both. We’ve seen Curtis played before as an unlikeable, spikey presence by Sean Harris in ‘24 Hour Party People’. In contrast, Sam Riley’s Curtis is a different animal. He’s quiet, brooding, passive, unless he’s on stage, when Riley nails his possessed, jolty act. Those familiar with Winterbottom’s earlier film will recognise much here: Curtis demanding the attention of Tony Wilson in a pub; the signing of the band’s record contract in blood; their appearance on Granada TV; skinheads invading a gig; Curtis’ epilepsy; his suicide.

What’s new is that Corbijn is also concerned with Curtis’ home life. This is hardly surprising seeing as the film has its origins in ‘Touching From a Distance’, the memoir of Deborah Curtis, his wife, and the film’s main interest is the strain of marriage on a young man who got hitched early and then falls in love with a Belgian groupie, Annik Honoré (Alexandra Maria Lara), who, when interviewing the band for a fanzine, utters the delicious line: ‘Tell me about Macclesfield’.

Corbijn’s film may be about the domestic life of Curtis as much as the public, yet he keeps a distance from the grit of the story. To his credit, this means that no wild biographical ideas plague his film, but there’s also a gap between the film and the filmed that’s a little unsatisfying. Maybe it’s the most honest approach – who, really, ever knows why someone kills themselves? There are suggestions here, but nothing so crude as a definitive answer.

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Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Oct 5, 2007

Duration:

122 mins

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

4.6 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:11
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|26
1 person listening
Francesca

Hypnotic in general, but particularly (and obviously) the "live" scenes. Don't know how much footage of JD & Curtis's unique stage presence Riley watched, but he nails it pretty well. The only caveat I have is that, while he definitely conveys the singer's fragility there's a bit of a lack of the darkly menacing quality that, juxtaposed with the former, contributed immensely to the charismatic stage presence & now legendary, utterly riveting perrformances Curtis became famous for. Director & actor really do get the "lost in trance" Sufi-like aspect of a man possessed by the transcendent, though. Did Curtis really suffer such a violent seizure before he took his life? Hard to say, but cinematically it's terrific stuff. I recommend watching Jon Savage & Grant Gee's documentary after seeing "Control". In many ways it's a more tantalizing peek-behind-the-curtain & in its own way, through never-before-seen footage (astonishing) & interviews with everyone but Deborah Curtis (who appears nevertheless through archival material & excerpts of writing) . Taken together the two films constitute a true embarrassment of riches, not only for JD or music fans but for anyone dealing with loss & grief, or trying to understand the mystery of genius - or of human behaviour in general.

Steve

A brilliant film - the live performances were extremely powerful. Re critique's posting on 19 October - Hooky wasn't positively presented but that was exactly right - he always seemed particularly cynical and bigoted.

Steve

A brilliant film - the live performances were extremely powerful. Re critique's posting on 19 October - Hooky wasn't positively presented but that was exactly right - he always seemed particularly cynical and bigoted.

Teresa

I would first like to start out this comment by saying that had Miss Simigis done a little more research into the film, she would have known that whenever a voiceover is heard, it is actually letters or poems that Ian Curtis wrote. (Existence. What does it matter?) Mr. Corbijn intermingled this with the action at some of Ian Curtis' most pensive moments. Moreover, Ian Curtis does not tell Rob Gretton that the band is named after a brothel used by the German soldiers in WWII, rather he tells a man at the recording studio when they record their first EP, An Ideal for Living. Other than those few comments. I have nothing but good things to say about the film. I would rather let others discover for themselves whether or not they are transported and taken in by this beautiful piece of celluloid as I was. I loved it.

Teresa

I would first like to start out this comment by saying that had Miss Simigis done a little more research into the film, she would have known that whenever a voiceover is heard, it is actually letters or poems that Ian Curtis wrote. (Existence. What does it matter?) Mr. Corbijn intermingled this with the action at some of Ian Curtis' most pensive moments. Moreover, Ian Curtis does not tell Rob Gretton that the band is named after a brothel used by the German soldiers in WWII, rather he tells a man at the recording studio when they record their first EP, An Ideal for Living. Other than those few comments. I have nothing but good things to say about the film. I would rather let others discover for themselves whether or not they are transported and taken in by this beautiful piece of celluloid as I was. I loved it.

Jack

only go see this if you have any interest in sam riley, ian curtis or joy division, otherwise it's a waste of 2 hours and £5. it's easily 30 minutes too long and had me itching to get out the cinema

critique

Would love to know what those who knew Curtis thought about it. Didn`t think Hooky or Bernard were well portrayed.

exliontamer

Absolutely superb. Beautifully shot, incredible acting, spine-tingling performance footage, profoundly moving yet wryly comic -- and more! Apart from one or two minor scenes was utterly transported somewhere else for nigh on two hours. Highly recommended.

exliontamer

Absolutely superb. Beautifully shot, incredible acting, spine-tingling performance footage, profoundly moving yet wryly comic -- and more! Apart from one or two minor scenes was utterly transported somewhere else for nigh on two hours. Highly recommended.

Andrew

Worth seeing, if not for the great performance by Sam Riley, but for the music itself (many performed by the actors themselves). Dark and brooding just like a Joy Division record.