Control follows the true life story of punk rock singer Ian Curtis of Joy Division, covering his troubles with love, music, drugs, and epilepsy that led to his untimely death in May of 1980. It’s based on his wife Deborah Curtis’ autobiography Touching from a Distance to make sure everything is accurately displayed on screen.

Shot in beautiful black and white with magnificent clarity and carefully edited, this slick portrait of a musician’s unfortunate life might be masterful for those who are vaguely familiar with the band Joy Division, but everyone else will probably find it ambitiously clichéd in its character insight. It becomes just like every other musician’s rise and fall from fame. Become famous, get addicted to drugs, and die at an early age. It’s nothing we haven’t seen seven or eight times before and becomes dull quickly.

I’m not claiming this is a bad film. Amongst all the boredom (and there is quite a bit of it), there is a low-energized masterpiece in disguise. It just never takes off that disguise to make itself known. Sam Riley puts his heart into this role and is absolutely phenomenal and Samantha Morton does exceptionally well. The direction is sharp and the acting is great, so why does it feel so boring at times?

I don’t want to disgruntle the fanbase of Joy Division and want to make it clear that I have no desire to put down this remarkable legend. I just feel that the film would’ve been much better with a more interesting take on Ian Curtis’ lifestyle that draws in those who don’t even know the guy. This is where director Anton Corbijn and screenwriter Matt Greenhalgh stepped into a rut.

This gloominess has some serious hang-time and the film in general doesn’t seem to have anything genuinely important to say; it’s an unpleasant and dark film devoid of joy.

This punk rock music isn’t my cup of tea either, which doesn’t help at all. Joy Division’s songs all start off great, but then become flat and gives off a depressing vibe. This is a movie that drains all blithe thoughts from its viewers and leaves them isolated under a muggy rain cloud of sorrow. You can skip this film and still live a perfectly happy life. 2/5 stars

Written by Derek Fleek at

1 thought on “Control”

  1. Was an okay movie, little slow. Joy Division has some great music, but Ian on the cds I have sounds like he is trying to do a muppet impersanation, not a good singer by any means.

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