Generally favorable reviews - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    It's also that he's really, honest-to-God, got one of those movie faces that doesn't even come along once every generation. It's astonishing.
  2. 100
    Even though we're aware of the tragic trajectory of the singer's life, for a while it almost seems as if reality got it wrong and Curtis might just squeak past the reaper's scythe with no more than a shave and a haircut.
  3. 91
    Even if you have no interest in Joy Division, this picture is worth seeing for the unsentimental empathy and passion of the moviemaking.
  4. 90
    You don’t have to know anything about Joy Division to grasp the mysterious sorrow at its heart.
  5. 88
    It's Corbijn, shooting with a poet's eye in a harshly stunning black-and-white, who cuts to the soul of Ian's life and music. You don't watch this movie, you live it.
  6. 88
    One of the most perceptive of rock music biopics.
  7. Control doesn't claim to know the reasons Curtis killed himself. The act of suicide poses the question why, but rarely answers it, leaving the living to wonder, and to grieve. And there's certainly grief to be had in Control, but also joy. Really.
  8. Control goes past the clichés of punk rock-god gloom to offer a snapshot of alienation that's shockingly humane.
  9. 83
    Can a movie about such a fellow and such a fate be lovely? And can it uplift? Control is and, in its artfulness, does.
  10. 80
    Lovely and deeply touching picture.
  11. Reviewed by: Tim Grierson
    Control honors its subject’s eternal self-doubt by honing in on that truth and leaving the legend to others.
  12. Control keeps you riveted in ways that "24 Hour Party People" doesn't, primarily because of the investment of craft and conviction by all concerned.
  13. Corbijn makes us achingly aware of the singer's talent, the haunting poetry of his songs and how, living in the gloomy culture he did, his passing was virtually inevitable.
  14. 80
    Those who worship Joy Division may bridle at Corbijn’s film for its reluctance to mythologize their hero. Speaking as someone so irretrievably square that I not only never listened to the band but didn’t even know anyone who liked it, I can’t imagine a tribute more fitting than this.
  15. The cast is excellent, particularly Riley and Morton and, as Joy Division’s brash manager, Toby Kebbell. He’s a great character, bitter and hostile and a scoundrel: a born manager of talent destined to tear itself apart.
  16. Morton's as good an actress as any working today and in Control, she overcomes an age gap to give one of the year's most heartbreaking and honest performances.
  17. 75
    A rock bio minus the fun. The sex is guilt-stricken, the drugs are used to treat epilepsy, and the rock 'n' roll is about isolation and despair.
  18. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    A romantic victim to the end, this Ian Curtis is all that worshipful fans could ever hope for.
  19. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    The result is both a surprisingly lucid portrayal of clinical depression and dramatically a bit stiff.
  20. 75
    In essence, Control is a standard order biopic of a tormented artist. What makes the film interesting, if not unique, is the style in which director Anton Corbijn has elected to present it.
  21. The result is a good movie that falls short of greatness by aping too well the behaviour of its subject – occasionally brilliant, sometimes mundane.
  22. Sam Riley is fascinating as Curtis, a hypersensitive young man hobbled by his incurable disease, and Samantha Morton is poignant as his put-upon wife.
  23. Control is director Anton Corbijin's first feature, and he too frequently makes the mistake of falling back on his rock video skills.
  24. 67
    The story of Control's creation is the story of great potential, squandered. Joy Division fans should be able to relate.
  25. To my detached eye, this slender biography suggests that Curtis went from a faintly interested glam-rock wannabe of 16 to a mildly talented performer to a quietly glum fellow of 23 whose frustrations drove him to suicide.
  26. Reviewed by: LD Beghtol
    Despite excellent performances from Samantha Morton, Craig Parkinson, and the radiant Toby Kebbell, along with a noble effort from pretty newcomer Sam Riley as Curtis himself, Control is like a wake where the guests forgot to bring the booze and, for the most part, have nothing very nice or even particularly interesting to say about the deceased.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 58 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 26
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 26
  3. Negative: 4 out of 26
  1. KyleB.
    Aug 15, 2009
    This movie was excellent. I love the fact that they over recorded the songs with the band that they had in the movie, this makes the movie alot more interesting by watching and listening to how perfectly they learned joy divisions music to play for this movie. Full Review »
  2. charles
    Oct 30, 2007
    Excellent film... as a JD fan, I thought it was done in a way that even non-JD fans could enjoy it. All of the actors playing the JD band members actually played their instruments and performed those songs... it wasn't just Reilly overdubbing vocals over original JD recordings! That is something that really impresses me about the skills of the actors chosen for the band. True, Curtis was a genius, but he was also human... I felt this film was grounded in reality without trying to evangelize/make a martyr out of Curtis. Full Review »
  3. Aug 7, 2013
    A story about a tormented young singer committing suicide on the verge of stardom is bound to have a certain appeal. However, the risks of falling into melodramatic or morbid are high. Corbijn avoids both, directing this minor masterpiece with restrain and respect for all those involved.

    I loved the B&W photography. It recreates the atmosphere of those years, which seem long gone, the bleak but bubbling music scene, and the excitement about the new wave just about to explode. Youth having everything and not realizing how fragile life is.

    Ian Curtis was a particularly fragile creature, both because of his epilepsy and his problem with communication. A confused boy without guidance, who wrote some of the most depressing lyrics ever, he still has a huge following. Maybe because his anguish is universally understood.

    I am not a Joy Division fan, nor was I particularly shocked by Ian Curtis early departure. However, this movie is so well made that made listen again to their music. After more than 25 years their songs sound even more claustrophobic and depressing and I wonder how Curtis would have developed as a singer.

    Had he lived on, I doubt he could have transitioned easily into the light-hearted pop atmosphere of the late 80's. By checking out so early he became unforgettable. Even more so, with this sober but poignant movie celebrating his short time on earth.
    Full Review »