Control (The Weinstein Company, R)

control1.jpg

Filmed entirely in spectacular black and white, Corbijn paints every frame with sparseness and, sorry for the pun, isolation, and, as you can imagine if you’ve ever seen footage of Curtis performing, his concert footage is breathtaking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

control_-_dean_25.jpg

It’s probably worth getting out of the way letting you know that Control doesn’t suck; in fact, it doesn’t come close to sucking. With just about every musician biopic released in the past few years being an Oscar-baiting, barely above movie-of-the-week material, Control stands alone as a fascinating meditation of the stillness of an icon. Ian Curtis’ persona always beautifully mirrored the music of Joy Division: moody, brooding, mysterious. Perhaps much of those qualities had to do with his suicide at the age of twenty-three, just days before embarking on what would have been Joy Division’s breakthrough US tour. Though his life was poetically tragic, Control isn’t a biopic of triumph of the will, but a cinematic depiction of falling. From his dealings with epilepsy and dueling emotions for the two women in his life, his wife Deborah (Samantha Morton) and his mistress Annik (Alexandra Marie Lara), Sam Riley quietly inhabits the spirit of Curtis to surprising heights.

Director Anton Corbijn (a music video director most famous for Nirvana’s "Heart Shaped Box," though he directed several videos for U2, Echo & the Bunnymen, Depeche Mode, and Mercury Rev) begins the film in Curtis’ teenage years, where he idly lounges in his bedroom, with posters of Lou Reed adorning his walls and David Bowie constantly on his record player, like a less sexually-frustrated version of Christian Bale’s character in Velvet Goldmine. It’s in his bedroom that teenage Curtis spends most of his time and where he meets his soon-to-be teenage wife, a former girlfriend of a schoolmate of his. Filmed entirely in spectacular black and white, Corbijn paints every frame with sparseness and, sorry for the pun, isolation, and, as you can imagine if you’ve ever seen footage of Curtis performing, his concert footage is breathtaking (it helps that Corbijn previously directed the video for Joy Division’s "Atmosphere"). Worth noting is that all of the live footage was recorded as they were filming and not added in post-production.

Control is the sort of unglamorous, glitter-free rock n roll film that always feels unexpectedly fresh (think Gus Van Sant’s Last Days with less silence). It’s so strikingly different from cinema’s only other Ian Curtis depiction, 24 Hour Party People, though actor Sean Harris probably greater resembled Curtis (Riley, too often, looks like Pete Doherty). Corbijn also never depicts Curtis as either martyr or victim, instead as a man who found his ruin in imbalances: love and responsibility, talent and stardom, medication and sickness, among others. His suicide by hanging (though not on a block of ice as rumor will have it) is seen not as a liberation or crucifixion, but as an act of a desperate man, leaving both a personal and, most importantly, iconic legacy to the world. | Joe Bowman

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply