September 28, 2007

Control (2007)

As a big fan of Joy Division I really wanted to like this but it was woefully inadequate as a biopic of Ian Curtis and was even worse as just a film in its own right.

Most of the actors look very similar to the members of Joy Division especially James Anthony Pearson as Bernard Sumner. The problem is that they don't really act like them. That's not to say that Sam Riley doesn't do an excellent job as Ian Curtis but it just feels wrong and he comes across as a particularly dull person. Too much time is spent on trying to get the little anecdotal stories into the picture rather than showing him as the musician.

I also found the beginning of the film slightly confusing as it went from Ian at school to suddenly being in a band with no real explanation as to how and why he got there. Joy Division fans already know the story but I think the film would have benefited from showing Joy Division (or Warsaw as they were then known) in their pre-Tony Wilson days.

I'm surprised at how many things were left out too. If you aren't a fan then you'll need to do a lot of background reading to fill in the gaps. For instance, the story of how they sacked their first manager, got him to check the tyre on the car and sped off and left him, was completely missing yet is still one of the most amusing from their early days. The only light relief comes from Tony Kebbell as their plain-speaking manager Rob Gretton. It is a very depressing film otherwise but I suppose it can't really go any other way since we all know how things will end.

I didn't like Samantha Morton in the role of Deborah Curtis either. They made her out to be far too frumpy in comparison to Alexandra Maria Lara (as Annik) who just oozed Belgian sexiness from every pore (even if she is Romanian!).

Anyway, I suppose it's not the worst biopic ever. It's just not a particularly exceptional one. There's a good chunk of Joy Division's music in it which is performed surprisingly well by Sam Riley (rather than lip-syncing to the original vocals) and that's what everyone really cares about anyway.

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