Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Movies: Control

Though a little longer than it needs to be, this Ian Curtis biopic, in stunning, full grain black and white, proves that still photographers have plenty of business in movie making. Though the plot extends a bit into the domestic melodrama a more savvy director might mock, and the trope of the troubled rock star is bought into wholeheartedly rather than challenged in any way, Sam Riley and Alexandra Maria Lara give such luscious performances so beautifully photographed that the audience barely notices.

Samantha Morton, as Deborah Curtis (who produced the film, and wrote the autobiography on which the screenplay is based), ever ballooning with pregnancy and then depression, and dressed in the most distressing post-psychedelic mumus you've ever encountered, is thoroughly annoying, but one cannot hold her role against her, only express surprise that Ms. Curtis would be willing to portray herself thus. While it's not hard to understand why Ian Curtis would stray from her for the willowy, European Annik HonorĂ©, it is hard to understand why he chose to marry her so young (barely out of high school), and have a baby. Based on Corbijn's early shots of Curtis—alone in his bedroom, chain smoking, listening to David Bowie records, or out with his mate scoring prescription drugs from an old lady's bathroom, then tripping in the grass—it's never clear why he would want a family of his own; he appears malsocialized, and best when alone, writing poems, smoking, dreaming. It's no surprise when he cracks under the pressure of performances, two women's sucking affection, and the countless ineffective pills necessary to stave off the epileptic fits that come over him anyway (Riley, by the way, falls to a seething, quaking, drooling fit brilliantly). I had thought that Curtis had died from one of these fits (I knew that he had died disturbingly young), so was horribly surprised when, at the film's end, he hangs himself in his estranged wife's kitchen. After the movie, I went home and listened to all of my Joy Division records; I've always liked the band, but the music had seemed more hollowly foreboding before. Now, the dread is pregnant, thick, hot.

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