New on DVD: Control

New on DVD: Control

It’s impossible to know what really led Ian Curtis to commit suicide, but the uncanniness of the portrayals could mistake this film for a documentary. Control follows seven years of the all too short a life of Curtis (Sam Riley), lead singer of Joy Division. It starts with a sensitive teen falling in love, absorbing […]

It’s impossible to know what really led Ian Curtis to commit suicide, but the uncanniness of the portrayals could mistake this film for a documentary.

Control follows seven years of the all too short a life of Curtis (Sam Riley), lead singer of Joy Division. It starts with a sensitive teen falling in love, absorbing influences and embarking on a journey to unexpected international success. But the path becomes rocky when Curtis is diagnosed with epilepsy. He struggles with the trial and error method of dosing, depression, responsibilities to his family and fans, and loving more than one woman. The ‘70s-post punk star’s story ends May 18, 1980 at the age of 23.

Riley’s likeness to the late Curtis brings another level of authenticity to his stunning performance, which never falters whether he is on stage, off stage or having a seizure. Samantha Morton, as the young bride, gives herself entirely to the intensity of her character’s emotions, consumed by love or pain. In addition, the actors portraying the members of Joy Division actually came together as a band and performed live for the concert scenes, producing near identical gigs.

The film’s soundtrack is more than just a chain of Joy Division singles but a sample of the punk scene that influenced the band, including David Bowie, the Sex Pistols, and the Buzzcocks.

The “Making of” feature and the commentary by Corbijn answer many of the questions one has when watching a biopic: why did they do it; what/who was their source of information; and why did they do it the way they did?

As the film progresses, it becomes clear director Anton Corbijn believes the mood altering effects of Curtis’ medications contributed largely to his death. Furthermore, the black and white look suits the period and tone of the film precisely; it would be an entirely different movie if the final product were in colour.

The conversation with Corbijn in the special features reveals his personal connection to Curtis and Joy Division, which is more than just a distant admiration. The DVD also includes extended performances by the actors and music videos featuring Joy Division. Watching both groups perform the song “Transmission” is almost eerie.