Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Movie Review:: "Control" Movie based on Ian Curtis's life 9/8/10

Control is a 2007 black-and-white biographical film about Joy Division singer Ian Curtis. Matt Greenhalgh wrote the screenplay based on the book Touching from a Distance, written by Curtis' widow Deborah who co-produced the film. Directed by Anton Corbijn, Control stars Sam Riley as Ian, Samantha Morton as Deborah, and Alexandra Maria Lara as Annik Honoré. It also stars James Anthony Pearson, Joe Anderson, and Harry Treadaway as Joy Division members Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, and Stephen Morris, respectively, as well as Toby Kebbell as band manager Rob Gretton and Craig Parkinson as Factory Records head Tony Wilson.

The film follows Ian Curtis' life from 1973 to 1980, focusing on his marriage to Deborah, the formation and rise of Joy Division, his struggle with epilepsy, and his extramarital affair with Annik, culminating in his May 1980 suicide. The film's title derives from the Joy Division song "She's Lost Control".

Control premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on May 17, 2007 where it won several awards including the Director's Fortnight, the CICAE Art & Essai prize for best film, the Regards Jeunes Prize for best first/second directed feature film, and the Europa Cinemas Label prize for best European film in the sidebar. It went on to win five British Independent Film Awards including Best Film, Best Director for Corbijn, Most Promising Newcomer for Riley, and Best Supporting Actor for Kebbell. It was named Best Film at the 2007 Evening Standard British Film Awards, and Greenhalgh was given the Carl Foreman award for outstanding achievement in his first feature film at the 61st British Academy Film Awards.

In 1973, Ian Curtis (Sam Riley) is living in Macclesfield with his family. He experiences an absence seizure for several seconds during a chemistry class, and begins dating Deborah "Debbie" Woodruff (Samantha Morton) after the two attend a David Bowie concert together. They marry August 23, 1975 at a young age; Ian is 19 and Debbie is 18. Ian shows little interest in domestic life, preferring to retreat to the solitude of his room and write poetry.
In July 1976 Ian meets with Bernard Sumner (James Anthony Pearson), Peter Hook (Joe Anderson), and Terry Mason (Andrew Sheridan), who have started a band but are dissatisfied with their lead singer. They attend a Sex Pistols concert at the Free Trade Hall, after which Ian approaches the three musicians about be

coming their new singer. Calling themselves Warsaw, the band soon coalesces with drummer Stephen Morris (Harry Treadaway) replacing Terry, who moves into a managerial role. They make their debut at the Electric Circus May 19, 1977 following John Cooper Clarke (himself). They soon change their name to Joy Division, and Ian and Debbie finance the recording of their first EP, An Ideal for Living.
During his job as a civil servant at the Employment Exchange, Ian witnesses a seizure suffered by a girl named Corinne Lewis (Nicola Harrison). Dissatisfied with the brief mention that An Ideal for Living receives from Tony Wilson (Craig Parkinson) on Granada Reports, Ian confronts the television host and demands that he put Joy Division on his program. In April 1978 Joy Division plays a battle of bands at Rafters, impressing Tony as well as Rob Gretton (Toby Kebbell), who becomes their new manager. They perform "Transmission" on Tony's program and sign to his Factory Records label; Tony signs the recording contract using his own blood. Ian suffers a seizure during the drive home from the band's first London gig in December 1978; He is diagnosed with epilepsy and prescribed carbamazepine and phenytoin, which leave him drowsy and moody. He learns that Corinne Lewis has died of a seizure, and pens "She's Lost Control" about her. He begins to neglect Debbie, who gives birth to their daughter, Natalie, on April 16, 1979. Ian quits his job to tour with Joy Division, leaving Debbie to work and take care of the baby.
Following a London gig Ian meets Belgian fanzine journalist Annik Honoré (Alexandra Maria Lara), to whom he admits that he finds Macclesfield miserable and longs to escape it, and that he considers his marriage a mistake. In the midst of having sex with Debbie, he breaks down and cries. During a January 1980 European tour with Joy Division he begins having an affair with Annik. On returning home he admits to Debbie that he is unsure if he loves her anymore. As Ian is out recording "Love Will Tear Us Apart", she searches his room and finds a copy of Siouxsie and the Banshees' Join Hands with Annik's name and telephone number written on it; she calls the number and speaks to Annik. Meanwhile, Rob informs the band that they will be departing May 19 for a two-week tour of the United States. When Debbie confronts Ian about his infidelity, he promises her that his relationship with Annik is over. Nontheless, he continues his affair during the recording of Closer in Islington, lying to Debbie over the phone.

When Ian suffers a bad seizure in the middle of a performance, Annik is there to comfort him, and confesses that she is falling in love with him. He attempts suicide upon returning home by overdosing on phenobarbital, leaving Debbie a suicide note asking her to "give my love to Annik." Doctors save Ian's life and he continues to perform with Joy Division, but is exhausted by the strain and overwhelmed by the expectations of the band's audience, feeling that he no longer has control over his own life. At a performance at the Derby Hall the stress proves too much and he is unable to go onstage; Alan Hempstall (Joseph Marshall) of Crispy Ambulance steps in for the opening of "Disorder", but is heckled by the crowd until Ian takes the stage, only to walk off again after one verse. The crowd erupts into a riot when Alan retakes the microphone, and the gig is ruined. Ian tells Tony that he believes everyone hates him and that it is all his own fault. When Rob informs Debbie that both Ian and Annik have come over to his apartment, Debbie demands a divorce. Bernard attempts to use hypnotherapy on Ian, who then returns to live with his parents and writes a letter to Annik admitting his fear that his epilepsy will eventually kill him, and confessing that he loves her.

Two nights before the band's departure for their American tour, Ian returns home to talk to Debbie. Finding the house empty, he watches Stroszek on television until she returns, then begs her not to divorce him. When she refuses, he becomes angry and orders her out of the house until morning. Left alone, Ian drinks whiskey while listening to Iggy Pop's The Idiot and writing a letter to Debbie. As he places the letter on the mantlepiece he has another seizure and loses consciousness. Awakening the following morning, he hangs himself from the clothes line in the kitchen. Debbie discovers his body on her return and staggers into the street, crying for help. Upon hearing the news, the remaining members of Joy Division sit in stunned silence at a pub while elsewhere Annik is consoled by Tony. Ian's body is cremated, and the film ends with black smoke rising from the crematorium and the words "Ian Curtis died May 18, 1980. He was 23 years old".

Corbijn had been a devout Joy Division fan since the band's early days in the late 1970s. After moving to England, he met the band and shot several pictures for NME, which boosted his career as a photographer. Some of his pictures taken are featured in the movie. He also directed the music video for the 1988 rerelease of "Atmosphere". He said that the film overlapped with his own life in some ways. "I had moved to England to be close to that music at the time, and I was very into Joy Division. I worked with them, took pictures of them that became synonymous with their music, and I was forever linked. Then eight years after [Ian Curtis'] death, I did the video for "Atmosphere." So in other people's eyes I was always connected with them."
Control marks Corbijn's debut as a movie director, and he paid half of the €4.5 million budget out of his own pocket. The film was shot on colour stock and printed to black and white to "reflect the atmosphere of Joy Division and the mood of the era". Todd Eckert and Orian Williams are the producers. Deborah Curtis, Ian Curtis' widow, is a co-producer, along with music mogul Tony Wilson, who died months before the film's release. It had been Wilson who had given Joy Division their TV break on the local magazine programme Granada Reports, and he also founded Factory Records, which released most of Joy Division's work.

After the script for the film was finished in May 2005, the film was shot at the former Carlton studios in Nottingham, and on location in Nottingham, Manchester and Macclesfield, England, as well as other European venues. Filming began on 3 July 2006 and lasted for seven weeks. Filming in and around Barton Street (where Curtis lived and died), Macclesfield took place on July 11 and 12 July 2006. EM Media, the Regional Screen Agency for the East Midlands, invested £250,000 of European Regional Development Funds into the production of Control and supported the film throughout the shoot. Samantha Morton (Deborah Curtis) and Toby Kebbell (Rob Gretton) both studied at the Junior TV Workshop in Nottingham. Kebbell starred opposite Paddy Considine (who played Gretton in 24 Hour Party People) in Shane Meadows' Dead Man's Shoes.

Ian Curtis' daughter, Natalie, was in the crowd as an extra for the Derby Hall gig.
The Weinstein Company secured the rights to release the film in North America after its success at Cannes. The DVD was released in the U.K. on 11 February 2008, followed by the Australian DVD on 12 March 2008, and the North American DVD on 3 June 2008.

The film grossed box office of $8,159,508, with 71% of its revenue from countries outside of the U.K.. It ranks 32nd in terms of box office not adjusted for inflation among music biopics, below 24 Hour Party People and above What We Do Is Secret.

Peter Bradshaw, the chief film reviewer for The Guardian, described Control as "the best film of the year: a tender, bleakly funny and superbly acted biopic of Curtis". Prominent American film critic Roger Ebert gave the film a three and a half stars rating, out of four, and wrote that "The extraordinary achievement of Control is that it works simultaneously as a musical biopic and the story of a life."
Source: Wikipedia


  1. I really like Anton Corbjin's work. I have only seen part of this movie - I think I wouldn't like it as much as lots of other people do because I don't really like Joy Division that much - I think they are cool but not really for me.

  2. love this flm! love joy division! great re-cap :) nice to see you around the web :)

    food finery~tiffany