146 user 184 critic

Control (2007)

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 31 wins & 33 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Debbie Curtis
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 <k_luifje7@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Biography | Drama | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:




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Release Date:

26 September 2007 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Controle - A História de Ian Curtis  »


Box Office


€4,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£252,426 (United Kingdom), 7 October 2007, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$27,674, 14 October 2007, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$871,577, 27 January 2008

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


According to Samantha Morton, the director mortgaged his house to raise finance for the film. See more »


On the contract signed in Tony's blood, drummer Stephen Morris' name is spelled Steven. (The band mocks Tony's lightheadedness from the blood loss by falsely telling him that "Morris" needs to have a second "s" added, but no mention is made of the misspelling of his first name.) See more »


Ian Curtis: [handing Tony Wilson a piece of paper] Joy Division, you cunt!
See more »


Featured in Shadow Play: The Making of Anton Corbijn (2009) See more »


(Ian Curtis / Peter Hook / Stephen Morris / Bernard Sumner)
Published by Zomba Music Publishers Limited
Performed by Joy Division
Courtesy of London Records (90) Ltd, A Division of Warner Music UK Ltd
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Style and Romance
18 October 2007 | by See all my reviews

I saw this film last night then I went home and read a lot of the comments here. I think some things have been missed between the glowing reviews and the bitter disappointments.

First, it is a truly beautiful film and I found the acting uniformly excellent. That has already been said plenty of times.

More interesting to me are the comments about this not being an accurate or fair portrait of Ian Curtis and those around him. I've read plenty of accounts that characterize Ian and his band-mates as relentless practical jokers -- the book Torn Apart by Mick Middles and Lindsay Reade is full of these anecdotes. But I also think it's naive to expect a film like this to be anything close to a fair and objective telling of anyone's life. This is a dramatic interpretation, not a documentary.

In addition to the multiple meanings the title has for the characters in the film, this film is itself an exercise in CONTROL: Deborah Curtis's control over her husband's legacy; the surviving band members' control over the public image of Joy Division.

No, the film does not show the laughs and good times the band had, but this is in keeping with all of Joy Division's work. Their entire output as a living band was highly stylized. Almost everything they issued was in stark black and white; their imagery was overwhelmingly bleak and funereal; and they certainly courted controversy with their name and imagery. All of which was very consciously and tightly CONTROLLED by the band and the people at Factory. They gave few interviews and preferred to let the work speak for itself.

My point is that this film simply continues that project. It is yet another highly stylized piece of work in the Joy Division canon. To paraphrase the Tony Wilson remark that has been cited elsewhere in these comments -- when you have the choice between the legend and the facts, go with the legend. Their work has always had an epic, legendary quality. This movie is absolutely in keeping with that aesthetic.

I think it's also worth noting that Corbijn was a participant in shaping the Joy Division legacy from the very start -- his photographs of the band helped shape their image and his video for "Atmosphere" set the tone for how their legacy would be preserved. CONTROL is simply another collaboration with the band and their music. An extension of that original project.

I think that ultimately this film is an excellent piece of work. Just as Joy Division produced music of astonishing beauty and resonance out of the misery of life in post-industrial England, this film turns personal pain and loss into a powerful piece of art.

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