Anton Corbijn’s Control, based on Deborah Curtis’ Touching From A Distance takes us through the troubled times of Ian Curtis, singer of Joy Division. There are two things that set this biopic apart from every other one made on disturbed musicians – the first and most obvious being Curtis was not as interesting a personality as Jim Morrison or as angsty as Kurt Cobain. But messed up he was, and didn’t know how to find his way out.
The second thing is Corbijn’s treatment of the story – at no point is Curtis portrayed as a wild child, the way you’d expect an out-of-control rocker to be. The drug use is here, but is never really highlighted. The biopic focuses mainly on Curtis’ uncertainty of his own self, a condition which wrecks his relationship with his devoted wife.
Curtis’ bandmembers get hardly any footage in the movie, but that comes as no surprise – they probably weren’t very interesting individuals. Even with Curtis, the case is his band wasn’t as big as Nirvana, and he wasn’t complicated like Morrison. Depression and his inability to cope with it led him to end his life. Strangely, there’s talk of how his band/music career was demanding more out of him – since when have rock musicians started feeling they’re being looted?
Diagnosed with epilepsy, Ian has fits every once in awhile. Sam Riley plays rock singer Curtis to the hilt, and Samantha Morton, as his wife Debbie steals the show. As if the fits weren’t enough, Curtis somehow manages to fall in love with a pretty writer called Aneek – damaging things with Debbie beyond repair.
You’ll be delighted to see there is not even one attempt at showcasing Ian Curtis as a larger-than-life musician. All Control aims at doing, and does a flawless job of, is capturing the Joy Division frontman’s depression without getting too melodramatic.
The black-and-white film effectively captures the anguish felt by Curtis – though it will also make you think the man could’ve been in a far better place by simply being communicative with the people around him. Once again, Ian Curtis’ hasn’t been shown as a chronic drug user like Cobain or enigmatic like Morrison. He wan’t even unpredictable like them – just a plain old messed up British lad.
Control is about a young man’s dull life, his mistakes that push him further down the well of depression and ultimately leave him with no choice but to end his life.
VERDICT: Rare, medium and well done.
[One of my Buzz Reccos on Buzz18]