• Production
  • Performance
  • Music / Sound
  • Flow
  • Dialogue / Narrative / Story

Losing Control

Somewhere amid the stolid ennui and drab 50`s architectural hangover of public housing, amidst an impressive English expanse of 70’s decay and drudgery, a monochromatic, glam-rock, Bowie addled Ian Curtis drops offline like a broken photocopier, lost in a slow, teenage, pill-popping, post empirical breakdown; desperate to escape the concrete, the mindless cups of tea and the cookie cutter future of working class Northern doom.

This is the beginning of Anton Corbijn’s (clearly) well cut above the rest, zonked out, yet fully loaded, period biopic of troubled Wordsworthian conjuror and reluctant, walking medicine chest Ian Curtis. Charming period parochialism and flashes of brilliance dance like the gleaming of a shield across the screen with a subtle social commentary and an almost dreamlike documentary neo-realism.


Ian Curtis – Love will Tear us Apart

Featuring an amazingly together, but probably fictive & unique Pistols moment, this film rises above the usual rock pop biopic manure eight miles high through soaring performances, beautifully shot sequences and absolutely stellar dialogue. Somehow combining a gritty council estate of mind realism between panic attacks, unemployment and a hatred of hot dogs with the natural descent into family disintegration brought about through the vigours of being in a band.

The highs, the lows, the guilt, the shit, the rubbish and the sycophantic bollocks – the vigours of keeping a promise, the failure on a personal level: it’s engaging enough to feel almost like living inside the intense dramatic narrative of your own life. If you have ever been in a gigging band North of London there is much to recognise, and, masochistically enjoy.


New Mancunian pharmacological synth-rock and roll

The sound alone receives beautiful treatment and the music, actually played by the cast, is superb. The band come across as an amazing Anglicised version of the Doors – without all the West Coast plastic trash – and as the unique messengers of New Mancunian pharmacological synth-rock.

Sam Riley delivers an unbelievably convincing & metamatic Ian and Toby Kebble the fast talking Gallagher-esque, cock-sure hyperbole of their manager Gretton. The whole cast is on a slow burn. There is a delicately balanced harmony of realism and production value: no over mythologising, no glamour and this film is almost entirely devoid of cliché.

Rock n Roll Suicide

Ian Curtis’ personal sorrow and struggle to make it from adolescence into adulthood is thoroughly and tangibly realised as he slowly and inevitably becomes a misfit in his own life. His final exit removes any polish from the cult of rock suicide and proves that in the fervour of performance and the tumult of success humanity is often the first casualty – that the power of music performance bends reality beyond its true perspective.

This is an incredible  film – aching with plangent, almost tactile realism and could stand up on its own if it was about nobody at all. As it is, it’s about Ian Curtis and Joy Division and is one of  the best music films around.

5 stars.