Monday, October 08, 2007

In Control

Growing up in South Manchester in the late seventies I missed Joy Division by two or three years. Later at University I worshipped at the altar of Factory cool that was New Order, and thrilled to the dark lyrics and stark angular music of the band's previous manifestation. But while I saw New Order live, and interviewed them for a student paper, I never met the band's early tragic driving force, Ian Curtis. In depression, at a time when there was little understanding of it as a treatable illness, he had taken his own life at the age of 23.

But Anton Corbijn has filled the gap. His new (and first) film shows the self torture of Ian Curtis, and the depression that gave us the brilliant albums, Unknown Pleasures and Closer.

Corbijn knew Curtis, and many of the survivors of those days had a hand in this intimate and searing film. The sweat and passion of the music is stunningly realised - these are the best rock music sequences you'll see in any movie. New Order did some of the incidental music, and I was moved to see that the producer credits include Tony Wilson, who allowed the filmmaker to depict him as totally missing the agony Curtis was experiencing. Wilson died this summer. I hope he saw the film.

Other things are here which I remember very well from those times - phones with dials, the crappy cars, the clothes. The dry wit of the band, and the big personality that was Rob Gretton are also captured.

But at the centre of the film are two towering performances by Sam Mills as the agonised Curtis and Sam Morton as his wife Deborah. Best film of the year, for my money.

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