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Control, released in 2007, is a profoundly moving biographical film that pulsates with the intensity and heartfelt emotion of the post-punk rock era. Directed by Anton Corbijn, this movie illuminates the troubled life and career of Ian Curtis, a singer, lyricist, musician and member of the influential band Joy Division. The film boasts powerful performances from Sam Riley, who plays Ian Curtis, alongside Samantha Morton and Craig Parkinson in significant roles. Screened at the Cannes Film Festival, Control is personally narrated and shot in black and white by Anton Corbijn. This visual treatment vividly captures the grim industrial backdrop of Northern England in the late 70s, setting the tone for the tragic and poignant story that unfolds.

The story of Control begins at Macclesfield, England, in the 1970s. The narrative is centered around Ian Curtis, a wide-eyed, music-loving teenager yearning to escape the mundanity of small-town life. Curtis, portrayed with emotional depth by Sam Riley, idolizes artists like David Bowie and aspires to be something more than an ordinary civil servant. Riley’s depiction of Curtis is one that hovers between fragility and a rush of raw energy, reiterates the complexity of the character he portrays, with its chaos, and at times, subtle tenderness.

Enter Deborah, played by the talented Samantha Morton, who becomes the pillar of stability in Curtis’ turbulent life. After a swift courtship, they marry young, establishing the intricate dynamics of their relationship, which forms a significant subplot of the biographical narrative. Morton delivers a captivating performance, depicting Deborah's emotional resilience in the face of Curtis's inner turmoils.

Beneath the façade of an ordinary, happily-married man lurked a deeply disturbed soul. Curtis's struggle with epilepsy and depressing bouts triggered by it gets captured brilliantly in the film. These inner battles and his tumultuous relationship with Deborah formed the lyrical essence of Joy Division’s evocative songs. The band members are presented as ordinary blokes from Manchester, grappling to make sense of their sudden rise to fame and tragic fall. Craig Parkinson, playing Tony Wilson, Joy Division's eccentric manager, adds another dimension to the film.

Control, being a biopic, delves into the less glamorous and darker side of the rock and roll world. It undeniably places a magnifying lens on the tumultuous journey of one of rock’s most enigmatic figures - Ian Curtis - mapping his journey from oblivion to his heart-wrenching descent into despair.

The live music scenes in the film are delivered with an aura of authenticity that effectively transports the audience to the era of nascent punk rock. They echo the grim tone of the narrative yet manage to electrify with an undercurrent of raw energy. These scenes convey the essence of Joy Division and encapsulate why the band, under the leadership of Curtis, resonated with their listeners during their existence and long after their abrupt end.

Director Anton Corbijn, renowned as a music video director who had a long-standing history with the band, brings forth an intimate and empathetic side of rock and roll, underscoring the distress often hidden behind the resounding lyrics and blazing stage lights. Shooting exclusively in stark black and white, Corbijn’s aesthetic lends the film a timeless quality— a fitting tribute to the enduring legacy of Joy Division.

Providing an insightful commentary on fame, Control offers a perceptive view on its double-edged nature, showcasing how quickly it can build something and bring it crumbling down. And amidst all the chaos, how the ordinary becomes complex, and the familiar strangely becomes alien.

Control is more than a film about a well-celebrated rock band. It is a deep dive into the struggle and hardship of expressing oneself, the desperate search for connection, and the cost one pays for it in the arena of fame. It is a stark depiction of human complexities, a tribute to a talented soul, and a reminder of the fleeting nature of existence. While it opens up the life of Ian Curtis and Joy Division to the audience, it also leaves them pondering the paradox of the human condition, making it a potent viewing experience long after the credits roll.

Control is a Drama movie released in 2007. It has a runtime of 122. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.6. It also holds a MetaScore of 78.

How to Watch Control

Where can I stream Control movie online? Control is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at Amazon Prime, Plex, Pluto TV, Tubi TV, Vudu Free, Kanopy, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD, Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Control for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

Anton Corbijn
Sam Riley, Samantha Morton, Toby Kebbell, Alexandra Maria Lara
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