7.13.2009

REVIEW: Control (Anton Corbijn, 2007)

Seemingly not quite satisfied with complacency, often apathetic Ian Curtis draws what some may call inspiration from his idols, David Bowie, Jim Morrison and Lou Reed among others, and joins a band, but only when the opportunity plops in his lap. The result is the infamous yet short-lived late 70's act Joy Division and thus begins Anton Corbijn's examination of a helplessly depressed boy whose fame does little for his demeanor.

Control is 1991's The Doors on antidepressants. Presumably remaining true to the actual story, it even emphasizes similar plot points, though in this case accomplishing them in an appropriately less energetic manner. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but as can also possibly be argued about said Jim Morrison biopic, little attempt is made to draw in anyone beyond the built-in audience. In my LA Woman adoring eyes Corbijn's film is to Oliver Stone's as Muppet Babies is to The Muppet Show. I could even in a joking manner refer to it as "Doors Junior."

Despite my feeling toward Joy Division being a mere indifference, I can easily grasp the potential this mellow film has to make smitten fans swoon. Moreover, certain music-oriented scenes were particularly well crafted while the acting all around was entirely believable. Toby Kebbell's performance as band manager Rob Gretton was a definite high point and provided at least a couple contagious lines of dialogue. Corbijn's eye for composition that focuses on parallel lines is also commendable. Not often enough do I see films with such careful photography. Were I about ten years younger and more musically impressionable I may have taken to Control in a more overall positive manner.

The film succeeds in that it appears to be a faithful and uniquely delicate telling of Curtis' life story. It fails in that that story is the opposite of compelling. The ultimately 23-year-old Curtis is not shown to have learned a single lesson by the finale. His brief and monotonous existence does not call for a two hour film. At ninety minutes I would have likely looked more favorably upon Control.

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