Thursday, 17 February 2011

Control (2007) Visually breathtaking throughout, with great characters, capturing a time and a sentiment.

Viewing context:
Rcorded off of FilmFour. Wouldn’t have bothered, had I not seen The American about a month prior. Still had it on the +box for a while before watching it and only put it on because I fancied something that I could maybe watch a bit of, and if I get tired leave it for the next day, but this commanded my attention from start to finish.

Directed by Anton Corbijn, who directed The American, which was the reason I watched this film in the first place. Clearly I rated The American but this is a far superior film. Matt Greenhalgh wrote the screenplay by adapting the book by Debora Curtis. Greenhalgh went on to write last year’s John Lennon biopic, Nowhere Boy, which I am yet to see.

What Happened:
Follows the (short) life of Joy Division front man Ian Curtis, starting with his daydreaming days in upper school, through his time forming Joy Division and becoming the phenomenon he had always seen himself becoming, then his Rock & Roll induced, inevitable and self destructive decline. The basic model for a musical biopic, but like Gainsbourg earlier in the year, one that did things just differently enough to make them really engaging (I am not usually a fan of the long, drawn out biopic).

What it did particularly well:
Great performances that transcended the real life characters they were playing and spoke about society of the era by using their story.
When he was on stage before it let on to his epilepsy (I had no idea, prior to watching, that Curtis was an epilepsy sufferer), I already had some kind of impression just from that stage performance that he looked like he was about to have a seizure. This anecdotal example just goes to show the attention to detail that went into the acting and the camerawork in order to capture the essence of what was going on in Ian's life. The epilepsy suffering girl in the job centre may have contributed to the laying of these seeds which, is genius scripting.
Most importantly, the visuals were breathtaking, despite the complete lack of exoticism. Funny that The American was vibrant in aesthetics, but emotionally numb, whereas Control, shot in black and white and without the large expansive visuals was full of passion, life and the importance of caring for somthing. Both of these visually captivating films were shot for Corbijn by Martin Ruhe.

What unimpressed or didn't quite reach potential:
This is one I will be leaving blank.

It was no mistake that the film showed the sign/poster on Ian's wall of Jim Morrison and his years of birth and death. It is something about these artists; the same thing that makes them great is what causes them to struggle to fit in, to ever feel right and therefore leads to their young demise.
Debbie seemed to embody macclesfield, or home; what should be right, but what is also simple, easy and expected. A mind as great as Curtis' felt it needed more, so Anika embodied the different, the exotic, the foreign, the other, the wider world, but ultimately this pursuit of something to fill his 'lack' only contributed to his downfall.

Performance of the film:
Great supporting cast, particularly Toby Kebbell as the manager, but I guess in such a film it has to go to Sam Riley's Ian Curtis performance, particularly considering the actors performed all of the songs.

Scene of the film:
The fact that he told his wife he didn't love her when they were just walking home in the middle of the street. Something that would be so dramatic in a simpler film rang volumes by being set in such an unlikely situation and with no fancy work from the camera. It summed up Curtis and where his head was at; how he just didn't know what to do, what he wanted to do, what was the right thing to do, or how to do it, unless he was on stage.

Final Word:
Visually breathtaking throughout, with great characters, capturing a time and a sentiment.

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