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Control (2007)

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A profile of Ian Curtis, the enigmatic singer of Joy Division whose personal, professional, and romantic troubles led him to commit suicide at the age of 23.

Director:

Anton Corbijn

Writers:

Deborah Curtis (book), Matt Greenhalgh (screenplay)
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 31 wins & 34 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Sam Riley ... Ian Curtis
Samantha Morton ... Debbie Curtis
Alexandra Maria Lara ... Annik Honore
Joe Anderson ... Peter Hook aka Hooky
James Anthony Pearson ... Bernard Sumner
Harry Treadaway ... Steve Morris
Craig Parkinson ... Tony Wilson
Toby Kebbell ... Rob Gretton
Andrew Sheridan ... Terry
Robert Shelly Robert Shelly ... Twinny
Richard Bremmer ... Mr. Curtis - Ian's Father
Tanya Myers Tanya Myers ... Ian's Mother
Martha Myers Lowe Martha Myers Lowe ... Ian's Sister (as Martha Myers-Lowe)
Matthew McNulty ... Nick
David Whittington David Whittington ... Chemistry Teacher
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Storyline

Ian Curtis is a quiet and rather sad lad who works for an employment agency and sings in a band called Warsaw. He meets a girl named Debbie whom he promptly marries and his band, of which the name in the meantime has been changed to Joy Division, gets more and more successful. Even though Debbie and he become parents, their relationship is going downhill rapidly and Ian starts an affair with Belgium Annik whom he met after one of the gigs and he's almost never at home. Ian also suffers from epilepsy and has no-good medication for it. He doesn't know how to handle the feelings he has for Debbie and Annik and the pressure the popularity of Joy Division and the energy performing costs him. Written by Marco van Hoof <k_luifje7@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Biography | Drama | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and brief sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA | Australia | Japan | France

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 September 2007 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Контроль See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

€4,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£252,426 (United Kingdom), 7 October 2007, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$27,674, 14 October 2007, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$871,577, 27 January 2008

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$7,824,260
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The introduction that Tony Wilson gives the band as they're about to perform on Granada television is almost word for word taken from the actual broadcast. The song they play in the film is "Transmission", when in actuality they performed "Shadowplay" on Granada. They did perform "Transmission" live on TV but it was on the BBC without an introduction by Wilson, but instead a toned-down version of the poem used to introduce them at a gig in the film. See more »

Goofs

Joy Division is shown performing "Transmission" on Tony Wilson's television show in September 1978, but in reality, they performed "Shadowplay". The performance that is represented in this scene actually took place a year later in September 1979 on the BBC2 program "Something Else", when they performed "Transmission" (a performance which was used as the music video for the song) and "She's Lost Control". See more »

Quotes

Annik Honore: Ian...
Ian Curtis: Hmm?
Annik Honore: I'm a little scared.
Ian Curtis: Scared of what?
Annik Honore: Scared of falling in love with you.
See more »

Connections

References The Sound of Music (1965) See more »

Soundtracks

Dead Souls
(Ian Curtis / Peter Hook / Stephen Morris / Bernard Sumner)
Published by Zomba Music Publishers Limited
Performed by Joe Anderson (as Anderson), James Anthony Pearson (as Pearson),
Sam Riley (as Riley), Harry Treadaway (as Treadaway)
Courtesy of Northsee Ltd
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Depressingly Beautiful
7 October 2007 | by Gormley00See all my reviews

For every icon, there is an unknown predecessor who paves the way. Before there was Kurt Cobain, there was Ian Curtis, lead singer of the post-punk band, Joy Division. 27 years after his tragic death, Curtis' incredible contribution to music is finally being recognized in Anton Corbijn's film, "Control." It's only fitting that Corbijn serve as director since it was his early photographs of Joy Division that reflected the band's dark, introspective songs. Corbijn went on to photograph and direct videos for such musical greats as U2, David Bowie, Depeche Mode, R.E.M. and Metallica.

With his first feature film, Corbijn avoids the pitfalls of many music video directors who inundate us with flashy and unnecessary edits and camera angles. Instead, he lets the stark black and white of the film tell the story of a lead singer tortured by epilepsy, guilt, depression and suicidal thoughts. The use of black and white also captures the factory town of Manchester, England in the late 1970s, a city crumbling under industrial and economic stress. Manchester has since rebounded and is once again thriving.

Curtis is played by relative newcomer, Sam Riley, who's quiet and unassuming approach portrays an artist inspired by his heroes, David Bowie and Iggy Pop. At a chance meeting following a Sex Pistols concert, Curtis bonds with three fellow musicians to form the band.

As Joy Division begins to flourish, Ian's relationship with his young wife, Deborah, continues to distance itself. Academy Award nominee, Samantha Morton plays the confused wife trying to understand her husband's depressed soul. The film is based on Deborah Curtis' autobiography, "Touching From A Distance", so it comes as a surprise that Morton's character does not have more scenes in the movie.

The key to Control is understanding Curtis' depression, which the film accomplishes to near perfection. As he battles epilepsy, the young singer lives in constant fear that his next seizure will be his last. His only option is to swallow a daily cocktail of prescription drugs with side effects so terrible, that most of us would rather tempt fate than endure the aftermath of the pills.

Ian's spirit is also tortured by overwhelming guilt brought on by an extra-marital affair with a part-time journalist, played by Romanian-born Alexandra Maria Lara.

The most telling scene comes when Ian records an in-studio track for the song "Isolation." While Curtis stoically sings into the microphone, his band mates are distracted with the normal banter that typically occurs in a studio.

"Mother, I tried, please believe me. I'm doing the best that I can. I'm ashamed of the things I've been put through. I'm ashamed of the person I am." The lyrics seem to fall on deaf ears except for those of the sound engineer who refers to it as "genius." But Ian's brilliance is also a desperate cry for help ignored by everyone in the studio.

The 27-year-old Riley does an excellent job of capturing Curtis' aloofness on stage. Singers such as Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and even the early years of Michael Stipe would often drift into the moment of the song. But when Curtis performed, he immersed himself into his own world where the music simply served as the soundtrack. Riley skillfully draws us into Ian's dark world with a range of subtle head movements and facial expressions to a whirling explosion of arm gyrations that came to personify the singer's stage performances.

Overwhelmed with grief, shame and depression, Ian finally succumbs to his demons at the young age of 23. He left behind a wife, a child and a musical legacy that is finally receiving its just rewards nearly three decades later.

For those looking for a story solely about Joy Division, Control may not be for you. But for those seeking an intuitive perspective into the anguished spirit of one of the most influential alternative bands in history, you will certainly find it in this depressing but incredibly beautiful film.


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