After watching Anton Corbijn’s film Control for the second time I realised what an amazing film this is. One that has definitely moved up on my ladder of favourite movies. The film is about the lead singer of Joy Division- Ian Curtis, following his struggles through illness, love and music. The film is poetic with chilling voice-overs by Curtis, (played by Sam Riley) that are extraordinarily poetic about the trials of life, spoken criptically, that makes this movie so magical because it is subtle in it’s precision, right down to the final act.
Visually this film is amazing, where every shot captures a moment in time, like the film has been mapped out by a series of photographs aiming to capture every intricate detail of Curtis’ life. It truly is phenomenal and makes this film so incredibly cool, with smoke twirling in the air as musicians chill on worn out couches in high contrast black and white photography. It appeals to me on so many different levels, but then maybe it is just me. Yet, again do not get put off by the black and white nature of this film it was made in 2007 and actually shot on colour film, later to be transformed into black and white because Corbijn thought it would capture Curtis’ character better. This is a fine point to make Curtis in colour just would not seem right, and it felt this way when I watched ’24 Hour Party People’ immediately after, I thought this is not depressing enough it is not capturing the inner poetic notions of Curtis that ‘Control’ captures so precisely.
Apart from all the depressing is some brief brighter moments, such as Curtis’ renound unusual dance moves and childhood drug stealing from the elderly. These moments are probably the brightest parts of the movie, so therefore I would not suggest this film if you are looking for an uplifting film about joy and happiness, because from this film you wont get it. However, if you like music and music history then you’ll like this film, especially since it is based on Deborah Curtis’ (Ian’s wife) book labelled ‘Touching from a Distance.’ If you’re not a music buff go see it just for the cinematography because it is in its own almost heart breaking way beautiful in depicting the gorgeous town filled with blue stone buildings and the ‘cool’ lives that Joy Division lived.
Performance wise I had never heard of any of the actors, which is what also makes this film work, there is a freshness about it you are not seeing the same old people in the same old roles. It makes the film more about the musicians rather than the actors portraying them, which makes it special we don’t think about the fact that it is Sam Riely playing Ian Curtis we believe that this is Ian Curtis. For me acting is about filling the role appropriately and believably and in the context of this film realistically, because these actors are depicting real people in real places. Deborah Curtis played by Samantha Morton is convincing as the struggling wife of a musician, we feel her pain as we listen to her worried, teary phone calls. The absolutely gorgeous Alexandra Maria Lara who plays Curtis’ lover Annik Honoroe is fantastic, moving from eager hobby journalist to asking Curtis the real questions, searching for whatever lies beneath. However, Curtis himself played by Sam Riley is without a doubt the stand out he is thoroughly convincing and thoroughly mysterious, we never truly unmask his character, we never truly comprehend his struggles, nor his poetic rantings used as voice-overs that are subtle in their precision. The performances truly add another layer to this movie, giving it true emotional depth as we watch Curtis’ relationships with people, that in some way circle around his misery without truly grasping its seriousness. It is subtle, if not anything else, it is no ‘American Beauty,’ where everything is layed out before our very eyes, it almost conveys Curtis’ life metaphorically, slowly unpacking his life through a series of photographs and words.
“I wish I were a Warhol silk screen hanging on the wall. Or little Joe or maybe Lou. I’d love to be them all. All New York’s broken hearts and secrets would be mine. I’d put you on a movie reel, and that would be just fine.”