I watched Control last night. Given the rave reviews it’s received, especially on Rotten Tomatoes (which usually I find to be very reliable) I was disappointed. The film is beautifully shot in black and white, but it’s very slow moving and even boring at times. I may have found it so because I’m already very familiar with the story, in no small part due to watching The New Order Story documentary on TV.
I recorded that documentary back in the nineties and I watched it over and over again. It showed the real Rob Gretton, the real Tony Wilson and real band members. To be completely frank, the real people were far more likeable and entertaining in the NO Story than the actors in Control. The anecdote about Ian having a fit in the car on the way to the gig for instance was brought to life far better in the documentary than the film.
One of my favourite films – 24 Hour Party People – tells the same story but intertwined with with everything else that was happening and again, it is far more absorbing. I suppose it is a bit unfair to compare the two as Control is a biopic of Ian Curtis who was never that much of a cheerful soul and 24 hour is a portrait of the Madchester scene.
Anyway, to return to Control, I’m not sure whether it was deliberate but the women in Curtis’ life are annoying to the extreme. Why does Debbie put up with so much? She has such an awful, pathetic voice. Why does Annik accept being the bit on the side when she wanted more? Annik’s voice is even worse, not only pathetic but she talks in half whispers so you can barely hear her. I found myself shouting at the TV ‘Speak up!’
The two redeeming features were the music (I can’t think of any other band I’ve heard who is quite as haunting and hypnotic and yet still punky) and Sam Riley’s utterly captivating performances as Ian Curtis on stage. I could barely believe that he wasn’t the real deal. So I’ll leave you with a sample of that awesomeness: