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Control (2007)

R  |   |  Biography, Drama, Music  |  5 October 2007 (UK)
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A profile of Ian Curtis, the enigmatic singer of Joy Division whose personal, professional, and romantic troubles led him to commit suicide at the age of 23.



(book), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 30 wins & 29 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Debbie Curtis
Annik Honore
Craig Parkinson ...
Andrew Sheridan ...
Robert Shelly ...
Mr. Curtis - Ian's Father
Tanya Myers ...
Ian's Mother
Martha Myers Lowe ...
Ian's Sister (as Martha Myers-Lowe)
David Whittington ...
Chemistry Teacher


Ian Curtis is a quiet and rather sad lad who works for an employment agency and sings in a band called Warsaw. He meets a girl named Debbie whom he promptly marries and his band, of which the name in the meantime has been changed to Joy Division, gets more and more successful. Even though Debbie and he become parents, their relationship is going downhill rapidly and Ian starts an affair with Belgium Annik whom he met after one of the gigs and he's almost never at home. Ian also suffers from epilepsy and has no-good medication for it. He doesn't know how to handle the feelings he has for Debbie and Annik and the pressure the popularity of Joy Division and the energy performing costs him. Written by Marco van Hoof <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Biography | Drama | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and brief sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




| | |


Release Date:

5 October 2007 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Controle - A História de Ian Curtis  »

Box Office


€4,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£252,426 (UK) (5 October 2007)


$871,577 (USA) (25 January 2008)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The black-and-white film was actually shot in color, then transferred to black and white because, according to the director, the black and white film "was so grainy it looked like Super-8 even in 35 millimeter." See more »


When Ian is recording the vocals for "Isolation," he appears to be using a modern Shure KSM27 studio condenser microphone. See more »


John Cooper Clarke: The colour scheme is fuckin' brown Everywhere in chicken town, The fuckin' pubs are fuckin' dull The fuckin' clubs are fuckin' full of fuckin' girls and fuckin' guys with fuckin' murder in their eyes, A fuckin' bloke gets fuckin' stabbed waitin' for a fuckin' cab, You fuckin' stay at fuckin' home, The fuckin' neighbours fuckin' moan, Keep the fuckin' racket down This is fuckin' chicken town The fuckin' pies are fuckin' old, The fuckin' chips are fuckin' cold, The fuckin' beer is fuckin' flat, ...
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Sister Midnight
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

An extremely moving experience
30 September 2007 | by (Vancouver, B.C.) – See all my reviews

Days away from embarking on a long dreamed about tour of the United States, Ian Curtis, the lead singer of the band Joy Division, hanged himself on May 23, 1980 from a rope in the kitchen of his apartment. His suicide not only ended his promising young life but also the dreams of a generation. Twenty seven years after his death, the eulogizing continues. Last year saw a documentary by Christian Davies: Joy Division: Under Review and this year has brought two more films: Joy Division: The Last True Story In Pop by Grant Gee and Control, the winner of the Camera d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Based on the 1996 memoir "Touching From a Distance" by Ian's widow Deborah Curtis, the film follows Curtis' life from his teenage years to his tragic death at age twenty three.

Unlike conventional bio-pics like Ray and Walk the Line with their star glamorizing propensities, Control delivers a three-dimensional portrait of a real human being and how his troubles affected the people closest to him. The film is directed by photographer and video director Anton Corbijn, a celebrated photographer who took some of the most recognized photos of Joy Division. Because he knew and worked with the band, the emotional connection to its subject is palpable. The film is shot in black and white and the choice underscores the grayness of Curtis' home town of Macclesfield, England and the grim mood of much of the work.

The major reason for the film's success, however, rests with lead actor Sam Riley who eerily recreates Curtis in appearance and voice. He performs all of the band's iconic songs such as Atmosphere, Love Will Tear Us Apart, and Twenty-Four Hours himself, using Curtis' robotic hand motions on stage to great effect. Another outstanding performance is that of Samantha Morton who plays Deborah Curtis, Ian's loving and patient wife who is overwhelmed by her husband's success and her new responsibilities as a mother of their daughter. Married at a very young age, both husband and wife lack the strength to make a go of it especially with the pressure of Curtis' epileptic seizures growing worse, and Ian's on again off again affair with Belgian journalist Annik (Alexandra Maria Lara).

Though the subject matter is melancholy, Matt Greenhalgh's script provides a light touch filled with trenchant one-liners from the group's manager Rob Gretton (Tony Kebbell) and witty remarks from band members Joe Anderson, James Anthony Pearson and Harry Treadaway. Although Curtis has become one of rock's most mythologized figures, Riley plays him simply as a very innocent, down to earth young man whose talent was much greater than his ability to handle it. Control is an extremely moving experience whether or not you have foreknowledge of the events of Curtis' life. It is a film that has the power to touch and leave memories that are indelible.

121 of 147 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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