Steady “Control”

In the Anton Corbijn film, Control (2007), among Western nations England in the 1970s doesn’t seem to have much going for it. Young Ian Curtis (Sam Riley), however, has a lot going for him with respect to creating rock songs, and is the lead singer of the well-liked band Joy Division. But Curtis is a wayward romantic and a suffering sinner (and naif). He is afflicted with epilepsy and a lack of love for his wife Debbie (Samantha Morton) whom he treats inhumanely. He cheats on her with a woman called Annik. He is indifferent to the child he wanted his wife to bear. Curtis, a real-life person, commits suicide at age 23.

Control is about a man who finally cannot reconcile himself to social life, at all. Personal failure kills him. Made in black and white, the film is like a grim 400 Blows for young adults (and everyone else), without being the masterpiece that Truffaut’s movie is. Why we never hear what Curtis thinks about his music I don’t know, but Corbijn’s film is absorbing nonetheless. A first feature for the Danish director, it is refreshingly free of visual artiness—and of shallow acting. Important, that.

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