Momentum Pictures

Where many directors fail, photographer Anton Corbijn manages to give an even-tempered and realistic account of a troubled young musician in his directorial debut, Control. But, the real strength of Corbijn’s film about late Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis lies more in its visual beauty than its story. Filmed in black and white, Control captures the stark, overcast days in Manchester, England, that no doubt influenced the band’s music. Live performance scenes are actually done by the actors, and capture the sweaty rawness of Joy Division’s early shows. Sam Riley is stellar as Curtis, whom we first see in 1973 as a teenager mesmerized by proto-punk idols like David Bowie and Velvet Underground. Joy Division formed three years later, opening the doors to Curtis’ reluctant stardom. He became dependant on drugs he took for his debilitating epilepsy and began an affair with a journalist, while trying to maintain his marriage, fatherhood and a day job. Curtis eventually committed suicide in 1980 at the age of 23. But Corbijn folds the singer’s troubles evenly throughout the narrative, impressively avoiding sensationalizing the rock ’n’ roll clichés and making the film as much about the band as it is about Curtis.