I finally saw the Ian Curtis biopic, Control last night. I was pleasantly surprised to see that despite a long run here in Portland that the movie still sold out. But on to the movie itself.
I saw 24 Hour Party People several years ago. That movie covers the rise of Factory Records and Tony Wilson (RIP) and covers some similar ground as Control – the band formation of Joy Division (nee Warsaw) at the Manchester debut of Sex Pistols; the tongue-lashing Ian Curtis delivers to Tony Wilson to get JD on his show; Tony Wilson signing the contract in his own blood; the club brawl that ensues when Ian Curtis walks off-stage in the middle of a gig.
I'm not sure if seeing 24 Hour before seeing Control is a good or a bad thing. I think it sets a conundrum for director Anton Corjbin that viewers will be comparing and contrasting one movie from the other. The Ian Curtis of 24 Hour came off as a cold and robotic. Control's Ian offers up a more human version as tortured sensitive artist appearing cold as a protection for feeling too much.
I admit I was a little skeptical of Anton Corjbin as director as I've known him primarily as directing Depeche Mode music videos. At times I did feel like scenes came off as two dimensional. I thought Samantha Morton as Ian's wife Debbie tried to bring more out.
There were two good scenes. The first was Ian at work, calling to check on an epileptic woman he'd helped find a job. Having just started having his own 'fits', it's a touching moment watching his face as he discovers the woman has died, and the realization that it could happen to him. The second scene is of Ian and Anik, with whom he's having an affair, sitting on the floor of a bedroom trying to communicate their feelings while still holding back sharing too much vulnerability.
Between 24 Hour Party People and Control, I'm not sure I know who Ian Curtis was. Perhaps somewhere in the middle, perhaps somewhere beyond what we see in Control. It seems clear that he couldn't have handled being a grand old man of music like his contemporaries. Unlike some musicians or celebrities who have passed, I don't have any 'what if Ian Curtis hadn't died' moments.