Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Control

Netflix came through rather quickly with the Ian Curtis biopic Control. It was based on the novel by his widow Deborah Curtis called Touching from a Distance. I had read the book a few years ago, although I wasn't very familiar with Joy Division. In the book, Ian Curtis is portrayed by his former wife as a very difficult person: belligerent and irrational, forever starting fights and smashing things up. In the film, he was portrayed as a very serious, clean-cut young man with a steady job. Not the same sort of impression I got from the book, but probably neither portrayal was entirely accurate.

Certainly Curtis had an interest in music and attended concerts by hot bands of the day, but it seemed that he sort of drifted into the band that eventually became Joy Division. Perhaps that's partially why he became alarmed and increasingly depressed as the band became more successful. His epilepsy and relationship problems contributed to his eventual suicide, but it was never really explained what exactly he was hoping to achieve by joining the bad. He was apparently the main songwriter for the group, but as with many lead singers, it seemed that he became the group. In one scene in the movie he refuses to go onstage and the crowd reacts to a replacement singer by starting a riot.

The film is done in black and white, which adds to the overall gray, depressing impression that is conveyed by the town and life that Curtis is leading.

Final verdict for Control: Three Gherkins, for the English setting, plus references to the early 80s music scene

Final verdict for Touching from a Distance: Three Gherkins, for the insight into the music industry and a unique view of an artist.

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