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I don’t know Joy Division, I don’t know Ian Curtis. I hence cannot assess how meaningful these stages in the life of a young man and a young band are for the history of rock and indy music. It is hard to judge what phase of a band’s career this film shows – or rather, what heights the influence of the band had reached at the time of its termination. The young musician at centre stage who got himself into a marriage and fatherhood finds that he lacks skills for both roles. And both roles keep him from doing the only thing he does with passion, music. His wife is depicted as an actual roadblock to his artistic ambitions, maybe not so much because she is a little bit boring and accepts too quickly the role as mother and housekeeper, but probably because her husband sees her as such and early on gives her the impression that he feels embarrassed when she is around backstage or at the recording sessions.
The whole film looks grimy and bleak, the Manchester images that we are used to from the 70s and 80s, where everyday life is borderline depressing, and where even dinner at the family table looks and feels and sounds stuffy and dusty and thoroughly unpleasant. The black and white imagery adds to this, as does the music that the band with its slightly lucid singer with the creepy voice performs. This is a time when you put on an Iggy Pop record to calm down, and when chilling with your friends means having some beer and a lot of cigarettes on the sofa (sometimes wearing mascara), but not necessarily talking to them.
I wanted to see the film for years, and was reminded now by the new movie by director Anton Corbijn (, who had to explain how it came about that George Clooney apparently became aware of Control before signing on to the American with this director. He is a master of images and he can create an atmosphere. The sample of two tells me he seems to like characters that are or want to be dreamers, want to wonder what all this nonsense they got themselves into is all about. They are very different characters, of course, and chose different paths of action to get out of what they feel to be a mess. But the American and the Manchesterian both are cut from the same wood, the loners with a talent.

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