Feature

Control

While

Control Directed by Anton Corbijn (R)

Joy Division’s Ian Curtis struggles with stardom and depression.

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While “most rock films aim for the mythic, Control is rooted in the mundane,” said Cosmo Lanesman in the London Times. For his feature-film debut, acclaimed photographer Anton Corbijn spotlights Ian Curtis, the ill-fated front man of British post-punk band Joy Division. Starkly shot in black and white, the film begins in 1973 in Manchester, England, and takes us through his “grim, gray days of a forlorn, fag-butt and beer existence.” Corbijn shows us Curtis, finely played by newcomer Sam Riley, not as a rock god but a normal teenager: impersonating David Bowie in front of a mirror, falling in love for the first time, and struggling with epilepsy and depression. A cult star encumbered by his fame, Curtis hanged himself at 23, on the eve of his first U.S. tour. In any musician’s biopic, the audience already “knows the story (and the score),” said L.D. Beghtol in The Village Voice. The movie usually builds up the myth. Yet Corbijn’s reluctance to romanticize is quite intentional, said Anthony Lane in The New Yorker. He creates a “wiry electric tension between the extraordinary spectacle of Curtis at maximum surge” and the “dented ordinariness” of everyday life. The tension between them gives Control its “unmistakable pulse.”

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