Starring: Sam Riley, Samantha Morton, Craig Parkinson
Director: Anton Corbijn
Running Time: 122 mins
Control is a British film about the life of the late Ian Curtis, lead singer of Joy Division, whose romantic and health troubles led him to commit suicide at the age of just 23.
In comparison to the superbly average 24 Hour Party People, this is a much more impressive and compelling story of one of the most enigmatic characters of the 1970s music scene, taking a strongly dramatic approach to Curtis’ life, and making a realistic and often brutal story to watch.
The best thing about this film is that it remains understated throughout. It doesn’t think of itself as some grandiose statement on this man’s life, instead it’s a simple biography of the way that he struggled through so many problems and why he ended up committing suicide at such a young age, and that simplistic approach is what makes this most interesting and believable.
The central performance by Sam Riley is pretty impressive too. He changes throughout the film as his character matures from schoolboy to young man, and you can clearly see on screen the depth of interest that Riley has for Curtis, because he gives such a convincing performance as the singer.
This film’s pacing isn’t the fastest in the world, and perhaps if you’re not hooked within the first 20 minutes, it’s unlikely you’ll get more engrossed, and although the level of drama throughout does increase hugely, especially towards the incredibly brutal ending, this film may not be for everyone, however if you are a fan of Curtis or are interested in the 1970s music scene, then this will be a fascinating watch for you.
Another interesting thing about this film is that it’s all in black and white. That does seem a little pointless at the beginning, but as the story develops and you learn more about the hardships of this man’s life, it really begins to evoke the melancholy and difficulties that Curtis had to live through, whilst it also helps to keep up that understated, more realistic feel to the biography.
Overall, this gets a 7.7 because it’s not only a fascinating biography of an intriguing person, but also works incredibly well on a higher dramatic level, making for a compelling ride of emotions through a film that still knows and maintains exactly what it is.