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Control (2007)



Average Rating: 7.4/10
Reviews Counted: 108
Fresh: 94 | Rotten: 14

Control is a work of art, thanks to its evocative black and white cinematography and sensational performances from Sam Riley and Samantha Morton. Even those not familiar with Joy Division can still appreciate the beauty of the film.


Average Rating: 7.2/10
Critic Reviews: 32
Fresh: 28 | Rotten: 4

Control is a work of art, thanks to its evocative black and white cinematography and sensational performances from Sam Riley and Samantha Morton. Even those not familiar with Joy Division can still appreciate the beauty of the film.



liked it
Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 47,592

My Rating

Movie Info

Prolific music-video helmer and award-winning photographer Anton Corbijn makes his feature directorial debut with this biographical drama concerning the late Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis. Based on the book Touching from a Distance: Ian Curtis & Joy Division by the enigmatic singer's wife Deborah Curtis, Control documents the life of a legend who changed the face of modern music but never lived to witness the remarkable impact of his life's work. The time was the late 1970s, and the post-punk


Musical & Performing Arts, Drama

Matt Greenhalgh

Jun 3, 2008


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All Critics (111) | Top Critics (33) | Fresh (94) | Rotten (14) | DVD (12)

[An] absorbing and ultimately harrowing look at Ian Curtis' short, unhappy life.

December 7, 2007 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Sam Riley is fascinating as Curtis, a hypersensitive young man hobbled by his incurable disease, and Samantha Morton is poignant as his put-upon wife.

December 3, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Comment (1)
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film nails both the malaise and creative vigor of Curtis' short, bruised and chillingly relatable life.

November 3, 2007 Full Review Source: Denver Post
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Though Curtis is hopelessly dysfunctional, photographer-turned-filmmaker Anton Corbijn makes us achingly aware of the singer's talent, the haunting poetry of his songs and how, living in the gloomy culture he did, his passing was virtually inevitable.

November 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A film that perfectly captures the essence of the legendary and influential cult band Joy Division and its tragic lead singer, Ian Curtis.

October 29, 2007
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A work of art disguised as a rock-star biography, it's an evocative portrait of an iconic outsider and the place that he tried to transcend.

October 27, 2007 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film overcomes the central miscasting of Samantha Morton.

October 5, 2010 Full Review Source: Film Freak Central
Film Freak Central

The way Ian Curtis blocked his onstage movement mirrored isolationism in his home life. He clasped the microphone stand like a drowning man would a life preserver, but he couldn't stay afloat in dreary waters of his own creation. A seamless rock biopic.

September 25, 2010 Full Review Source:

Film %u0107e stoga biti shvatljiv samo onim gledateljima koji detalje povijesti "Joy Divisiona" i Curtisovog %u017Eivota imaju u malom prstu, a to su, dakako, najokorjeliji fanovi.

July 15, 2009 Full Review Source: | Comment (1)

Control does justice to Curtis' legacy but fails to make any further grasps for significance.

July 31, 2008 Full Review Source: Paste Magazine
Paste Magazine

Um filme repleto de planos magnificamente compostos e que se tornam ainda mais impactantes graças à impecável fotografia em preto-e-branco de Martin Ruhe.

May 26, 2008 Full Review Source: Cinema em Cena
Cinema em Cena

Positioning art as a necessary surrender to a creative force which removes the self dangerously from existence and society, Control intimately connects in tragic yet euphoric ways to the mixed blessing of the radically unleashed musical imagination.

March 30, 2008 Full Review Source: NewsBlaze

Some of Riley's musical performances are electrifying. This would not be a bad movie at all, except for the infuriatingly romantic portrayal of suicide.

March 6, 2008 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

Ian's trapped between insurrection and guilt, and so is Corbijn's film which mires itself in the artist's bourgeoisie dramas without figuring out how they influenced his music.

February 22, 2008 Full Review Source: I.E. Weekly
I.E. Weekly

Smashes the music biopic mold by portraying the star at its center not as a mythological creature, but as a real-life, messed-up kid in over his head.

February 4, 2008 Full Review Source: SpoutBlog

More expressive than Gus Van Sant's "Last Days" about a tragic music figure, but incrementally so.

January 19, 2008 Full Review Source: Cinema Signals
Cinema Signals

Tells me more than I care to know about the ill-fated singer with a personality like talcum powder and songs fit to make the depressed even more depressed.

January 16, 2008 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews | Comments (8)
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Riley gives a great performance, and director Corbijn's direction is deceptively perceptive. One of the year's best.

January 1, 2008 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

The monochromatic palette suggests the kitchen-sink heyday of 1960s British cinema; fittingly, 'Control' is at its best when it concentrates on the quotidian.

December 21, 2007 Full Review Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Control humanizes Curtis while acknowledging that he could be remote and even cruel in his selfishness and despair.

December 14, 2007
Kansas City Star

Joy Division fans have already embraced Control, a film biography of short-lived lead singer Ian Curtis. Those of us who didn't follow the 1970s English band or the post-punk scene around it may feel less invested.

December 7, 2007 Full Review Source: Charlotte Observer
Charlotte Observer

A wobbly construction of facts, but as musical bio-pics go, it has real cinematic personality and avoids most of the painful clichés that tend to shadow these can sense Deborah's script-approval fingerprints all over the material.

December 6, 2007 Full Review Source:

Even if you have no interest in Joy Division, this picture is worth seeing for the unsentimental empathy and passion of the moviemaking.

November 22, 2007 Full Review Source: Baltimore Sun
Baltimore Sun

Control is easily one of the finest films ever made about the collision of music, madness, and the human heart.

November 17, 2007 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Audience Reviews for Control

Joy Division are a perfect example of a band who's music I adore without particularly liking as people. I have limited respect or sympathy for Ian Curtis, a fantastic musician but I've always had more sympathy for the Friends and family left behind after suicide. Obviously I don't include people with mental health issues in that equation. There is an unhealthy obsession with the celebrities that die young in our society, it's not a new thing but it's still quite distasteful. At no point though does Anton Corbijn sugar-coat the facts, Ian Curtis is seen for who he was in a fair and balanced manner. Anton Corbijn is a fantastic photographer and I'm delighted that he's now making feature films. It is visually beautiful but I never doubted it wouldn't be, Sam Riley and Toby Kebbell do fine jobs but I've got a soft spot for Samantha Morton, I think she is consistently brilliant. I was particularly impressed with the detail here though, the contact in blood, Stroszek being the last film he watched, Corbijn's take is as real as it could ever be and I really respect him for that. A great film, whether you were a fan of Joy Division or not.
April 18, 2011

Super Reviewer

Good movie. I never knew too much about the lead singer of this band, only that it he had a sad life. This movie really did well painting a life full of struggles, and difficulties. It is a shame that he died so young.
October 15, 2010

Super Reviewer

For every icon, there is an unknown predecessor who paves the way. Before there was Kurt Cobain, there was Ian Curtis, lead singer of the post-punk band, Joy Division. 27 years after his tragic death, Curtis' incredible contribution to music is finally being recognized in Anton Corbijn's film, "Control." It's only fitting that Corbijn serve as director since it was his early photographs of Joy Division that reflected the band's dark, introspective songs. Corbijn went on to photograph and direct videos for such musical greats as U2, David Bowie, Depeche Mode, R.E.M. and Metallica.

With his first feature film, Corbijn avoids the pitfalls of many music video directors who inundate us with flashy and unnecessary edits and camera angles. Instead, he lets the stark black and white of the film tell the story of a lead singer tortured by epilepsy, guilt, depression and suicidal thoughts. The use of black and white also captures the factory town of Manchester, England in the late 1970s, a city crumbling under industrial and economic stress. Manchester has since rebounded and is once again thriving.

Curtis is played by relative newcomer, Sam Riley, who's quiet and unassuming approach portrays an artist inspired by his heroes, David Bowie and Iggy Pop. At a chance meeting following a Sex Pistols concert, Curtis bonds with three fellow musicians to form the band.

As Joy Division begins to flourish, Ian's relationship with his young wife, Deborah, continues to distance itself. Academy Award nominee, Samantha Morton plays the confused wife trying to understand her husband's depressed soul. The film is based on Deborah Curtis' autobiography, "Touching From A Distance", so it comes as a surprise that Morton's character does not have more scenes in the movie.

The key to Control is understanding Curtis' depression, which the film accomplishes to near perfection. As he battles epilepsy, the young singer lives in constant fear that his next seizure will be his last. His only option is to swallow a daily cocktail of prescription drugs with side effects so terrible, that most of us would rather tempt fate than endure the aftermath of the pills.

Ian's spirit is also tortured by overwhelming guilt brought on by an extra-marital affair with a part-time journalist, played by Romanian-born Alexandra Maria Lara.

The most telling scene comes when Ian records an in-studio track for the song "Isolation." While Curtis stoically sings into the microphone, his band mates are distracted with the normal banter that typically occurs in a studio.

"Mother, I tried, please believe me. I'm doing the best that I can. I'm ashamed of the things I've been put through. I'm ashamed of the person I am." The lyrics seem to fall on deaf ears except for those of the sound engineer who refers to it as "genius." But Ian's brilliance is also a desperate cry for help ignored by everyone in the studio.

The 27-year-old Riley does an excellent job of capturing Curtis' aloofness on stage. Singers such as Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and even the early years of Michael Stipe would often drift into the moment of the song. But when Curtis performed, he immersed himself into his own world where the music simply served as the soundtrack. Riley skillfully draws us into Ian's dark world with a range of subtle head movements and facial expressions to a whirling explosion of arm gyrations that came to personify the singer's stage performances.

Overwhelmed with grief, shame and depression, Ian finally succumbs to his demons at the young age of 23. He left behind a wife, a child and a musical legacy that is finally receiving its just rewards nearly three decades later.

For those looking for a story solely about Joy Division, Control may not be for you. But for those seeking an intuitive perspective into the anguished spirit of one of the most influential alternative bands in history, you will certainly find it in this depressing but incredibly beautiful film.
April 7, 2010
MisterYoda ?

Super Reviewer

    1. Ian Curtis: So this is permanence. Love shattered pride what once was innocence turned on its side. A cloud hangs over me marks every move deep in the memory of what once was love.
    – Submitted by Prattay S (5 months ago)
View all quotes (1)

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Foreign Titles

  • Control: La vida de Ian Curtis (ES)
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