Saturday, November 17, 2007

Control (2007, Anton Corbijn)

There's very little a filmmaker can do to transcend formula, once he's committed himself to a fairly straightforward retelling of a famous musician's life. Which is another way of saying that Corbijn can't quite break out of the musical biopic template with his account of the rise and fall of Joy Division's Ian Curtis, although it's to his credit that I thought he might after a while. For most of the film, I was struck by how Corbijn transcended the clich├ęs largely through directorial choices. There are many bleak offerings in the genre, but none so consistently downbeat as this. The black and white 'scope (mmmmmmmmm... b/w 'scope) goes a long way, removing a lot of the happiness from the images, but I also appreciated that for over an hour, Corbijn mostly sticks to diagetic music, either from the band's performances or from the radio. In doing this, he successfully avoids "Walk the Line" style pitfalls, in which the songs the characters sing parallel their lives or vice versa. Sadly, this doesn't last- once Debbie finds out Ian's been cheating, Corbijn holds on her while "Love Will Tear Us Apart" plays on the soundtrack. Pity, really- I'd though Corbijn might've known better. Nonetheless, well worth seeing, with Morton awesome as usual and Sam Riley uncannily embodying Riley throughout the film. And it's hard to argue with the songs themselves, innit? Rating: 6 out of 10.

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