Monday, 19 November 2007

Control: The Edge of No Escape

Film : Control

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Directed by Anton Corbijn.

OK, so I'm sure this has been covered to DEATH in blogs and review pages already (no pun intended, honestly), but seeing as Control was possibly the best film I've ever seen, I feel the need to yet again confirm just how incredible it is.

Oh my. Where to begin? There's so much I want to tell you about this film, but I'll try my best to keep it short so as not to give too much away. I went to see it with my housemates, who all had varied knowledge of Joy Division. I'd read the book, Touching From a Distance by Ian's wife, Deborah Curtis, that the film was based on, so was pretty clued up on what the plot would be like. On the other hand, one of my housemates didn’t even realise Ian Curtis was dead, so the levels of fandom were very, very varied! Despite this, every single one of us came out of the cinema in awe of such a fantastic portrayal of an incredibly interesting life, and talked about it for the rest of the evening.

I have a confession. I'm not really big on films and am normally constantly checking my watch, waiting for the credits to roll so I can tick another film off my 'must see' list. Terrible, I know. But this time I found myself wishing history would be rewritten so that the story would be never-ending and I would never leave my dark, uncomfortable cinema seat. Shot in hazy black and white, Control is beautifully directed - each frame could easily be a stunning photographic image, capturing every moment, important or not, of Curtis's unusual life. Thick clouds of smoke swirl from lips in dingy gig venues and (playing Ian Curtis) Sam Riley's intense stare perfectly reflects the thoughts of a man left vunerable and confused by the life he has chosen (or chose him?). But then again, with such a renowned photographer at the helm, I wouldn't expect anything less.

But Control isn't just some aesthetic feast for the eyes. The plot is perfectly written, constantly keeping things moving on. For example, we rarely see Joy Division writing songs or going through the dull motions of initially forming a band. Curtis merely approaches the other members after a Sex Pistols gig, asking if they need a singer and -WHAM- the next scene, they're on stage at their first gig, the hype slowly closing in. I'll avoid mentioning much of the plot as this is a film that needs to be watched with a fresh view (after all, I think most people can roughly predict the main events that will be documented). But despite the tragic ending, there are many hilarious one-liners littered throughout, preventing Control being another doom-and-gloom biopic (Last Days, I'm looking at you). Riley's delivery of Curtis is exceptional, and in some scenes the resemblance really is uncanny (in others, he tends to look a hell of a lot like current 'troubled star' Pete Doherty... merely a casting coincidence? I'm not convinced). But Riley is not the only actor who actually looks the part... the appearance and mannerisms of the cast are so accurate that you can't help but believe you are watching real life as it happens, rather than a reconstruction.

Control really is a masterpiece and the most fascinating account of a band on the edge of fame and disaster that I've ever seen (and trust me, I may not be a film fanatic but I've seen my fair share of rock 'n' roll dramatisations). You owe it to yourself to watch this film at least once, although I guarantee you'll come back for more, no matter what your knowledge of Joy Division's music. Gut-wrenchingly honest, it is likely to hit a nerve in everyone, whether it be the painfully accurate spats between Curtis and his wife, or a shudder of rapture every time they launch into another timeless melody. This is one pleasure that should not remain unknown.

Official Site: Control

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