Even if you haven’t heard of the band Joy Division, you have heard their legacy in other bands: The Cure, U2, The Smashing Pumpkins, and NIN, to name a few, have all cited the group as a major influence on their music.
The new movie Controltells the story and dark struggle of Joy Division’s front-man Ian Curtis-his difficulty coping with increasing fame, health struggles, and eventual suicide.
Directed by Anton Corbijn, the movie is shot in black and white, which seems to fit with the tragic nature of the story. It starts by introducing Ian Curtis, who lives with his parents, works at a record shop and writes poetry. He meets a girl named Deborah (played by Samantha Morton) through a friend, and takes her to a David Bowie concert.
Curtis marries her at the young age of 19. And after attending a Sex Pistols concert with the other future members of Joy Division, a band is created, with him as their lead: Warsaw, later changed to the name Joy Division.
After writing hits such as "Transmission" and "She’s Lost Control," the band finds itself gaining increasing popularity, to the point of making television performances.
While things are looking good for the band, things are not good with Ian Curtis. Epilepsy begins to beset him, sometimes while he is performing on-stage. Curtis also begins to have an affair with a French journalist named Annik Honore (played by Alexandra Maria Lara). The demand for him to perform, increasing fame and his deteriorating marriage start to weigh heavily upon Curtis.
As one hears the somber, often despairing lyrics of Joy Division’s songs in the movie, the pain Curtis experienced becomes apparent. The fate of the characters leaves many astonished and confused.
Ian Curtis’s character is well played by actor Sam Riley, who looked eerily similar to the legend. Riley also manages to capture Curtis’s signature baritone, Jim Morrison like singing style.
Whether a fan of Joy Division or not, Control will entertain all who enjoy biopics. Fans will enjoy the film because many know that the remaining member went on to form New Order, but not much is known about Curtis.
Control, which was co-produced by Curtis’s widow, Deborah Curtis, helps the audience to know and feel compassion for the troubled rock-star who helped usher in the late ’70s post-punk movement.
Control is playing at the Broadway Centre Theater in Salt Lake City. Show times and additional information can be found at http://www.saltlakefilmsociety.org