Losing Control


Went to see ‘Control‘ the other night and was very impressed. Any film based on true events always has a thin line to tread between representing the truth and fitting the truth into a movie format but director Anton Corbijn walks that line brilliantly, no doubt in large part due to the involvement of many of the principals.

The end result is a movie that feels authentic throughout and one that captures the mood of late 70s Britain very well. The only sequence I have any real issues with is the crowd reactions during the riot gig, which feel very Hollywood. But it’s pretty much the only mis-step in the whole film.

Sam Riley has rightly won praise for his portrayal of Ian Curtis but the whole cast deserve credit. Of course the ending is shattering, particularly when you know what is coming but even if you don’t, the choice of music and lyrics throughout draws an unerring straight line to the tragic conclusion. The off camera nature of the deed itself almost allows you to keep it filed away but Samantha Morton’s reaction on finding the body of her husband tips the balance. This is where the audience loses control.

You suspect that there will be 2 categories of people who will see this film. Of course, as a music fan, if not a Joy Division obsessive, the film has a particular resonance. But I’m not sure how it plays purely as a film to someone who isn’t aware of that context. Certainly as soon as the house lights went up I was surprised that there was light hearted conversation amongst the young-ish largely, student audience because both myself and Mrs MPT needed a few minutes to properly compose ourselves.

It’s not all bleak though. I’m surprised to hear of criticisms that the movie buys into the ‘grey, grim young men’ image of the music. If it’s not a riot throughout, it nonetheless seems to capture some of essence of the humour of being in that band and the balance feels right for the movie.

Go and see it if you can.

Joy Division – Transmission (live) (from ‘Still’)

The Joy Division LPs have been remastered and reissued on CD this year with an extra disc in each of a different live gig. Buy them here.


  1. Ed says:

    cannot wait to see this film. Suspect it may not be sweetness and light, but as a long-term fan of the music, and having read Deborah Curtis’ book when it came out in 1995 (bloody hell, I was still at school -just!) I want to see it. Suspect i may need a moment to compose myself at the end too. Always moved when watching 24 Hour Party people when Ian kills himself.

  2. Whilst the film is based on the book, obviously there’s plenty of events not witnessed by the widow. I think the film is fair to all concerned even allowing for the inevitable condensing of certain events.

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