Joy Division Spins Out of ‘Control’
In the late 1970s, Roxy Music rock legends Brian and Bryan were writing songs dedicated to Humphrey Bogart. David Bowie adorned his mullet with glitter and his face with eyeliner and lipstick while Lou Reed made sweet nothings with John Cale and Nico at Warhol’s Factory.
Inspired by all this and completely enveloped with their world, Ian Curtis was a teenage recluse. In his room with his music, posters, writing, drugs, cigarettes and makeup, he transformed himself nightly, took himself away from Manchester and into the worlds of Warhol’s silk screens, the broken hearts of New York and regularly became Spider from Mars.
Notable photographer, music video director and Netherlands native, Anton Corbijn, takes a stab at directing with his well-received and widely celebrated biopic on the life of Curtis in ‘Control.’ Being in long-term good standing with bands like Depeche Mode, he took his understanding of this musical era, applying it to his first full-length film. Like most of his photographs, the film is entirely in black and white, done in order to represent this highly reflective, interior view of the life of Joy Division’s frontman and this period of mixed bleakness and musical celebration.
Based on a book written in the mid-90s by widowed Deborah Curtis, ‘Touching From a Distance,’ the famed singer’s wife helped write the script as well. Her book delves into the complexities of her life with Ian, tracking his life from a schoolboy stealing drugs from the elderly just for kicks to the collar-up star of Tony Wilson’s Factory. Although the film is based on a book authored by the wife of the legend, ‘Control’ is not just her side of the story but an extrapolation of her life of confusion and rejection of fame and fortune.
Even though he is a relatively new actor, Sam Riley delivers an oddly identical persona of Curtis, capturing the dementia of guilt and fear comprised of his extraneous love affair and developing epileptic seizures. He is Curtis right down to his jaw line, vacant eyes and jagged bangs. Samantha Morton, who some may remember as Agatha from Steven Spielberg’s ‘Minority Report,’ is spot on as Curtis’s wife, Deborah. Alexandra Maria Lara plays the famous ‘other woman,’ Annik Honor