After 2003's 24 hour Party People (Michael Winterbottom) I thought that the Joy Division story was told and couldn't be expanded on.
It turns out that I was wrong. Corbijn's film is more about Ian Curtis than his band and that slant does provide fresh look at the story. A warning those who are expecting a rock star biopic will be disappointed. Control is a film about Ian Curtis' domestic life, relations and affairs. Most of the music side of his life is almost secondary.
One thing the viewer has to take into account is that the Corbijn used Curtis' wife's book "Touching from a Distance' as inspiration and as a basis for the whole picture. Thus the movie starts out with Curtis meeting Debbie and marrying her.
The film unravels slowly taking all the aspects of Curtis' life that have been documented upon, His epilepsy,depression with fame, his affair with Belgian fanzine writer Annik Honore and ultimately his suicide. The thing is that everything is very tastefully executed. Nothing crass. Corbijn treats these subjects sensibly with a sense of decorum.Yet Corbijn manages to make an intense film.
As far as acting goes, I cannot complain Samantha Morton shines as Curtis' prudish wife Debbie and Sam Riley ( once of Domino act 10,000 things) gives a sterling first performance and other characters such as Tony Wilson and Rob Gretton are presented as the dandy and rough working man respectively ( as in 24 hour party people) and there is a tiny bit of name dropping ( The Fall, Crispy Ambulance and in one scene Debbie picks up an NME with the famous Corbijn photo
of Ian smoking a cigarette.
My only real qualm is that maybe more scenes should have been devoted to Joy Division's rising popularity and the fact the the remaining members of Joy Division are protrayed as idiots. but this is a minor qualm and I ahven't seen any of the Dvd's extras as yet.
As biopics go this one has all the right elements and too boot it is beautiful to look at. I'm glad that Corbijn did not turn this into a 2 hour music video and one can see he took pains to get everything done perfectly. It's a great companion to 24 hour Party People (at least the Joy Division segment) and actually does make it look inferior. There will be another Curtis Biopic sometime next year and I can tell you now that it has to maintain quite a high standard to beat this one.