Control tears us apart
Editor’s note: This review will kick off a Sophie Zine film series in which we will be reviewing films featured at Oklahoma City Art Museum. During February, we will review the movie of the week, every week, for the entire month. We encourage everyone to check out all the cool films that are coming into town in effort to keep the screenings going. In February, the museum is gearing up for the 80th Academy Awards (on Sunday, February 24, 2008). The Museum’s Noble Theater will present many of the year’s acclaimed titles in the acting, screenwriting, foreign language, documentary and short film categories. Plus, museums are where it’s at. Period.
I can’t imagine a world without the music of Joy Division. Not only would I be without one of my all-time favorite songs, “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” but I’d also be missing out on staples like Arcade Fire, Bloc Party and Interpol, all of which have sited Joy Division as a major influence.
And now I can say with confidence, I can’t imagine a world without the new film, “Control.” When I heard the film was playing at the Oklahoma City Art Museum, I jumped at the opportunity to see it in a theater setting; it’s been on the top of my “must see” list for some time.
Anton Corbijn, who once photographed the band himself, directs a tragic story of Ian Curtis’ life. The story begins as a story of Ian Curtis as a rebelious teen, and as the story develops, a playful love story turns into marriage. Curtis then begins to develop further as an artist, and the conception of Joy Division is revealed. The film takes us along on his journey as he struggles through a marital affair, a battle with epilepsy, and his new found fame.
Filmed in black and white, and obviously by a skilled photographer, it’s almost as if a series of frames from the film could be put together chronologically, and tell the same story through photographs just as beautifully and accurately. This is as much a visually satisfying film as it is emotionaly and intellectually. The director’s decision to make the film in black and white helps take one to a different era, where suddenly, Joy Division did not seem like some band from the 70s. No, everything they are doing is revolutionary, and you can feel it in every beat.
As a “Radio Transmission” performance is recreated in the film, actor Sam Riley brings Ian Curtis’ enigmatic personality to life for a new generation, and he dance, dance, dances to the radio in a way that I wish more vocalists could emulate. Riley’s dynamic character, who is constantly smoking, mood swinging, and then performing with such a puzzling presence, is nonetheless charming all the meanwhile. It’s as if this director, Corbijn, and this actor, Riley, have recreated the magic that must’ve existed in the last seven years of Curtis’ existence.
It’s not just Riley, but the entire cast actually, that make the film so fascinating. The passion that exists between Curtis and both his wife and mistress helps to create the perfect love tragedy – the kind that makes your stomach drop, but also the kind the makes you wish you were in love.
And as all tragedies must end so solemnly, so it is that Curtis took his own life. If only Joy Division could’ve lived on a little longer for my generation to see, I could’ve done without such a tragic film. Nonetheless, this is my favorite movie of all time. And I don’t think I’ve ever said that. I couldn’t recommend another film more than this one.