A biopic about Ian Curtis, the long lost lead singer of British rock group Joy Division, could easily be named â€œLove will tear us apartâ€, go for the easy tear, build another rock myth and get the easy buck. Photographer Anton Corbijn instead, names it Control and makes a movie about gradually losing exactly that. Until there is no myth to hang on to.
Sam Riley gets handed the difficult task to portray one of the really complexed figures in the late seventies’ brit rock scene. He plays Ian Curtis from his late teens till his tragic suicide with a firm grip on the character, the moves and the nature of his depression.
The script is based on a book by Deborah Curtis, the singer’s widow and the woman who experienced his dark side the most and it follows the facts, as the teenager Ian becomes a member of society and a member of a rock band, a husband, a rock singer, a father and a rock star. It’s well constructed, creating a base for the non-fan viewer to sympathize with the characters, especially Curtis, and leaving no obvious voids concerning the key moments of his short life.
Corbijn’s direction is never pompous, leaving the actor’s expressions and those timeless songs create the atmosphere along with his beautiful visuals. In black and white of course, the way Northern England’s smalltown environment supposedly felt like in the seventies. The same colorless way Ian Curtis seemed to look at his life’s trials and tribulations.
Excellent appearances by the loveable Samantha Morton as Deborah Curtis and the comedic Toby Kebbell as the group’s manager Rob Gretton.
Subtle but firmly inside its main character’s core, this biopic pays true respect to him and the film medium.