- Till yesterday I had only heard of this band in passing
- Till yesterday I made no effort to learn anything more of this band
- Till yesterday I had not heard any of its music
And yesterday I watched ‘Control’.
Biopics have this nasty habit of being all that you expected them to be. And this holds true especially for the movies portraying brilliant but extremely flawed individuals. ‘Control’ has it all – sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll – in short the general ingredients of a niche band that came into its own too soon and was assumed to have faded away too early.
That’s where all the clichés stop. ‘Control’ is based on the life of Joy Division’s lead singer Ian Curtis and his troubled life that made and broke the genius within. If there is one word for the pace of the film that is – subtle. Subtlety flows in every frame without being pretentious and this is totally performance driven.
Before this, I had never set eyes or seen the Joy Division lead singer in action. But after ‘Control’ there is a feeling that Sam Riley got it right. In fact he got it perfectly cause the flaws, the genius, the performance, the illness, the discord is all packed into this one performance that takes its inspiration from the stone & machine landscape of Macclesfield. The cast has its share of known performers – Samantha Morton playing the aggrieved wife (playing Deborah Curtis on whose book, Touching from a Distance, the movie was based), and a brilliant cameo from the band manager (Tobey Kebbell as Rob Gretton). Kebbell is hilarious as he goes about arm twisting and wheeling dealing his way with profanity laced words that seem to make good business sense in the end.
I have slept through biopics before, but this one definitely did not warrant a blink. The performance was riveting and backed with a racy soundtrack from the sounds of David Bowie to the Sex Pistols and then the punk rock of Joy Division, every frame of the movie was there for a reason. If I heard Joy Division’s music without knowing anything about them, then I definitely would have mistaken it for a band of the nineties. The music was definitely well ahead of its time and showed why brand Britannia ruled when it came to the rock and punk scene. Rock and punk is as much a British phenomena born out of the gloomy industrial towns of England than the downtown parking lot of Seattle or San Francisco.