Mar 2, 2012

Control [2007]

The 2007 British film, directed by Anton Corbijn, tells the story of Ian Curtis, the lead singer of Jov Division, a famous rock band of the late 1970s. Married young, he decides to pursue a music career after 3 guys casually tell him, at a Sex Pistols concert none of the less, that they need a singer for they band. They start as Warsaw, but quickly change their name to Joy Division and begin touring UK and then Europe.  But life is not easy for Curtis, as he has to battle epilepsy, an unhappy marriage, and hard work.

The story is interesting and sad, as it depicts Ian as a very mellow, introspective, troubled young man, who just doesn't seem to fit into this world, either if it's at home, with his wife and daughter, or on stage, or just around his friends. He always feels out of place, outnumbered, caged in and can't make up his mind on one spot, on one place where he can feel comfortable. That is the saddest thing to see- a man who is always looking for himself and his happiness, but never gets to see it or enjoy it, and that lack of control over his life is what pushed him to take that radical decision in the end.

I must say that Control is one of the best British films I have ever seen. Shot in Black&White, it perfectly captures the mood and essence of that era, and the performances are superb. Sam Riley absolutely shines as Ian Curtis and plays him with such ease, but, in the same time, with such complexity and wisdom, that is wonderful and moving to watch. Samantha Morton, as Debbie, his wife, stands in the same high league, adding so much passion, love and sweetness to her character, making it believable and endearing. Actually, all of the cast is very good, continuing with Alexandra Maria Lara as Annik, Ian's lover (she is now happily married to Riley and they live in Berlin), Toby Kebbell playing Rob, their manager, and the band, formed by Joe Anderson (as Peter Hook, the bass player), James Anthony Pearson (as Bernard Sumner, the guitarist) and Harry Treadway (as Stephen Morris, the drummer and percussionist). The moments were you see them playing on stage are live and the actors are actually playing the instruments and singing, as they wanted to make it as real as possible. If you look up on youtube the same performances of the band (like Transmission or Dead Souls), you will see they are very similar and they encapsulate the style and vibe of Joy Division.

As expected, the soundtrack is amazing, and I just discovered a new love for Joy Division; their sound is so simple and catchy, yet very specific and Ian Curtis's vocals are haunting and interesting, perfectly mixing with the good melody. I especially loved She's lost control, Love will tear us apart, Trasmission, but others, as well.

You should definitely see Control soon, because it is a great film and well worth your time, especially if you like biopics or British films- it stands out in both categories.


  1. Oh I love this movie! I completely fell in love with Joy Division after this.
    Sam Riley and Samantha Morton are fantastic. I feel so sad for Ian Curtis. He didn't deserve to die this way, but only the good die young I suppose.

  2. A really powerful film with a great visual style. The black and white works really well.

  3. Sam Riley is one of those young Brits I've been meaning to check out. He's in Brighton Rock too, I think. I like this story, sounds like something I'd really enjoy and appreciate. Great review Diana.

  4. Hip-hip!

    I featured Riley on my blog recently and this is the film that caught my notice of him.

    Funny enough I am doing LAMB acting school for this month which features Samantha Morton.

    As for the movie itself, I watched it knowing what was going to happen (and kind of not wanting to see it). But the film is so wonderfully made that I could not take my eyes off of it.

    Great review Diana!

  5. @Nikhat: Yeah, me , too, I fell in love with Joy Division, too!
    @Dan: I agree, the black and white works very well!
    @Ruth: I know Brighton Rock and I wanted to see it a couple of months ago, but guess what? the accents were so powerful that I barely understood anything and I needed subtitles, but I didn't found them. Maybe next time!
    @Iluvcinema: Thanks, I am glad you liked it, both the movie and my review! Good luck with Samantha Morton acting school!

  6. I love Joy Division, and I have been meaning to check this out. Glad to hear you enjoyed it. Another great movie that is partly about the band is 24 Hour Party People. It kind of loses its luster once it moves on from Joy Divison/New Order, but it's still a fun watch.

  7. Haven't heard of this one, looks good though! Great write up Diana!!

  8. @Eric: Thanks for dropping by! I have heard of 24 hour party people and I will try to see it soon! You should really see this one, if you like the band!
    @Ruth: You haven't seen it? check it, I think you will like it!

  9. I found this to be a pleasant surprise when I watched it. As you said it also casued me to purchase some songs on itunes.

    If you liked this you should check out Corbijn's other film The American which I thought was great. However, I could be in the minority on that.
    Nice review

  10. We've had Control on DVD for years, but I've never got round to watching it. I definitely want to though, as I do really like Joy Division, and visually, this film looks amazing.

    Great blog! Definite follow from me.

  11. @threeguys1movie: Thanks for the recommendation, I will check it out!
    @Cherokee: Thanks for the follow, hope to see you soon around here! And yes, you should watch this movie, it is very good, especially if you like the band!

  12. This is a great piece of work and I really liked how there was barely any background music at all except for the music Curtis made. Great review for a pretty great flick that I was surprised by how much I actually liked.

  13. @Dan O: Thanks, I am glad you enjoyed it! This movie made me love Joy Division even more, they are pretty cool!

  14. Being a big Joy Division fan, I really wanted to see this and I thought it was a really good film.

    Notably as it strayed from the conventions of the bio-pic.

    My only drawback about it was the fact that I knew what the story was about and I felt it was better told in Michael Winterbottom's 24 Hour Party People about Factory Records.

    For me, that film did a whole lot more to explore a lot of the craziness of that period and told a lot about Joy Division's story in the film's first half. I recommend it highly, largely because it is intentionally-exaggerated.

  15. @thevoid99: A lot of people suggested I should see this movie, so I will give it a try soon, because of Joy Division and because I love British movies. Thanks for commenting, nice to have you around!