Tuesday, June 17, 2008

CONTROL (Anton Corbijn, 2007, UK) A great directorial debut from music video auteur Anton Corbijn with a stellar cast and taught script. Corbijn smartly films in glorious black and white, which takes us back to the formative youth of Joy Division's Ian Curtis telling this tragedy in a straightforward chronological order. Sam Reilly really captures Curtis' quicksilver energy and emotional apocalypse, which ultimately leads to his self-destruction. The live performances are great and the actors must have practiced at length because there are no gimmicky quick cuts or flashy editing to hide the fact that they're really playing the songs! I don't know much about Joy Division so I think this film is accessible to any fan of thought provoking cinema. We are really able to connect to Curtis' struggles that are mostly his own but partly instigated by the onset of his epileptic seizures. His music is a way of externalizing this conflict and his Jim Morrison-like groan and the music's gothic flourishes swirl and devour the audience. A killer soundtrack includes vintage Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Buzzcocks, and Sex Pistols to name a few. Based on the novel by his wife Deborah Curtis, we get to see his story from a feminine perspective and are not allowed to glorify or condone his selfishness; we get to see how his love tears his family apart. Joy Division's music is not reserved for the terminally depressed and gothic crowd, but accessible to anyone who is moved by passionate and honest songwriting. (A)

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