Sound: Anton Corbijn's film Control is an interpretation of the life of Joy Division's lead singer Ian Curtis from the time he was 17 years old until the day of his untimely death at the age of 23 in 1980. The music of Joy Division acts as a backdrop for the story, which centers on Curtis' private life, transporting audiences through the phrases of his relationship with his wife Debbie and the affair he has with his mistress Annik Honore. The movie never deflects away from making Curtis the focal point from which all roads lead to, and Curtis' poetry and song lyrics assist in moving the story forward.
One of the most poignant moments in the film is when Curtis' song lyrics illustrates the scene showing the singer, played by actor Sam Riley who delivers a stirring performance, witnessing a young woman in the throes of an epileptic seizure. Curtis intones, Looking life in the strange new room / Maybe drowning soon / Is this the start of it all. This segment demonstrates Cutis' song lyrics as poetry in motion, playing a pivotal role in revealing his fears and insecurities about becoming famous as he is about to make the move to performing with the band in larger dancehalls and going to foreign lands like America, which is new and strange to him. America was a place that Curtis never visited as he hanged himself in his home before Joy Division could embark on their tour in America.
Ian Curtis is portrayed as a dreamer in his teenage years through the mid-'70s spending his time listening to the artists of his day like David Bowie, the Buzzcocks, The Sex Pistols, and The Clash. The music of his day sparks his own artistic abilities as Corbijn projects Ian Curtis as a highly evolved poet who was more than able to touch his own emotions, and also the driving force behind human behavior unveiling some of nature's deepest secrets in his verses. The movie manages to bring to life the lyrics of Ian Curtis. His premonition noted in his words foretold that his end was near as he was being pulled in so many directions - the security of his wife's bosom, his heart which craved for Annik, the audiences that wanted more from him, and his art which called to him. // 8
Overall Impression: The movie is educational above all else for film students who want to see how to make a black and white picture work on audience's minds, but the movie is very poor at re-tracing the relationship that Ian Curtis had with his band mates. Rather, it almost entirely draws audiences' attentions into the life that Curtis had with his wife. The film's content projects themes such as man vs. himself and man vs. universe as Curtis struggles with the demands made from audiences to give more of himself to them. The struggle peaks with a riot that breaks out at one of the band's gigs between the members of Joy Division and the front row of the audience who want the band to keep playing. The movie touches lightly on this conflict that musicians face, having to elevate audiences energy levels and then bring then back down so audiences let the band leave the stage. It was a battle that Ian Curtis never knew how to handle according to the movie, and ceased fighting it after he passed away. The movie shows how Ian Curtis had a hand in creating these bitter circumstances, but also how he was a victim of circumstances created by external forces. He gave into the pressure of this struggle at the end, but the music which he created with Joy Division has lived on far longer than he could have ever imagined, and the movie Control is a testament to Ian Curtis' longevity. // 8
- Susan Frances aka sweetpeasuzie (c) 2008