As any Joy Division fan knows, singer Ian Curtis was not a happy man, and Curtis biopic Control explores his mind with emotive intensity. Sam Riley is spot-on as the troubled musician who meets and marries Deborah (the excellent Samantha Morton) as his band Joy Division - later to evolve into New Order - is taking off. Epilepsy, affairs and tragedy follow in this gritty black and white tribute, with enough wit and credibility to entertain as well as educate.
It's rare that a biopic really gets into the head of its subject: real-life characters can be hard to penetrate, and many screenplays play it safe. Not Control. Curtis' wife co-produced the film - based on her own book - and helps provide a fascinating, intimate insight into the mind of her husband.
"GRIPPING AND DESPERATELY MOVING"
At first things seem rosy enough for Curtis - he's your average mildly rebellious working class lad dreaming of musical success. But once he's diagnosed with epilepsy, the singer becomes erratic and despondent - perhaps due to the drugs he's prescribed, perhaps because he's aware that a fit could one day kill him. As he starts alienating friends and family with his behaviour, the film probes deeper into Curtis' thoughts. It's frustrating watching a great talent spiral into depression - especially when you know how it all ends - but nonetheless gripping and desperately moving. And of course, there's a cracking soundtrack: recently-departed co-producer Tony Wilson would be very proud.
Control is out in the UK on 5th October 2007.