User Score
7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 58 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 51 out of 58
  2. Negative: 6 out of 58
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  1. charles
    Oct 30, 2007
    9
    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 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. Expand
  2. KyleB.
    Aug 15, 2009
    10
    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.
  3. PeteB.
    Jul 20, 2008
    8
    Bleak but surprisingly funny in places, this is a thoughtful, moving film. Catches the essence of the legendary Manchester music scene at the time through characters such as Tony Wilson.
  4. ChadS.
    Jun 4, 2008
    7
    If there's a heaven, Ian Curtis and Bon Scott probably had a lot to talk about. These two disparate vocalists fronted successful bands that went on to greater popularity after their untimely deaths. In lieu of an AC/DC biopic, Ian Curtis(Sam Riley) is back in black and white, in the ironically titled "Control", based on the Deborah Curtis memoir about her joykill husband. Something If there's a heaven, Ian Curtis and Bon Scott probably had a lot to talk about. These two disparate vocalists fronted successful bands that went on to greater popularity after their untimely deaths. In lieu of an AC/DC biopic, Ian Curtis(Sam Riley) is back in black and white, in the ironically titled "Control", based on the Deborah Curtis memoir about her joykill husband. Something doesn't add up. It's Ian's idea to get married. It's Ian's idea to have a baby. But in the delivery room, he freaks. He doesn't love his daughter. In the streets, he freaks. He doesn't love his wife. Why would a burgeoning rock star get married at twenty? Ian even tells his mistress, the journalist Annik Honore(Alexandra Maria Lara), how much he wants to leave Macclesfield. As a younger man, listening to "Jean Genie"(from "Alladin Sane"); we believe him, as Bowie sings about how "New York's a go-go and everything tastes nice," on his phonograph. It's no accident that Deborah(Samantha Morton) comes off as a saint in "Control". She's the executive producer. In most music biopics about morally compromised performers("Ray", "Walk the Line"), the film tries to portray them in the best possible light. This is where "Control" differs. The Joy Division frontman comes off as something of an ass. But the music remains undiminished, therefore Curtis(the Bob Dylan of the post-punk era) remains undiminished, in our eyes. Expand
  5. Carloss.
    Jun 9, 2008
    9
    A solid film. Beautifully shot and acted, this movie does a good job of telling the stories of Ian, Joy Division and Debbie. It stays very much in theme with the bands music.
  6. MattOut
    Oct 11, 2007
    10
    Beautifully shot, great acting. Impressive. (Review by someone who doesnt (didnt) know Joy Division.) Best movie of the year so far.
  7. WilliamG.
    Nov 5, 2007
    10
    Brilliant. I loved it through and through.
  8. MattA
    Jun 22, 2008
    8
    Beautifully shot. Superb Performances by all characters. A great biopic about a true music innovator and legend, who was not perfect by any means. The only problem with this movie is that the screenplay is a bit drawn out, and the pacing is a bit off. A great movie to watch, made better if you are familiar with the band's works.
  9. GaryS.
    Oct 11, 2007
    10
    Stylish, great, clearly work from an impressive photographer and director as well.
  10. DannyG.
    Oct 12, 2007
    9
    Beautiful film - I'm not even bothered about Joy Division. Excellently realised.
  11. N.J.
    Oct 14, 2007
    7
    An honest movie about a truly significant band. A times the scenes are a little schematic. I think that's largely due to the scenario, which is an attempt to squeeze as much emotion into the story as possible. Apart from the excellent music scenes, there's just not a lot of time for emotional development, so it remains a little sketchy.
  12. DavidW.
    Nov 5, 2007
    9
    An outstanding biopic. I've been a Joy Division fan for 21 years and read everything there is on them, but this film made me appreciate them in new ways. That's quite an achievement. There are some very real, and raw, moments here; so don't go if you're looking for a shallow good time and nothing more.
  13. JoelF.
    Mar 25, 2008
    10
    I love Joy Division since I was 12, for the past 15 years I always wondered why he killed himself. Control gave another perspective of Ian, his lyrics and his decision to cash his ticket to the other side..... One of the best movies!!!!!
  14. MarcelV.
    Aug 26, 2008
    9
    What a beautiful movie Anton Corbijn made. You can see he is a master in black and white (cinema)photography. Beautiful images and a good storyline. Great acting, especially the character of Ian Curtis: Marvellously played! Gives a very good image of these days in the depri/new wave/ avantgarde/ post punk music scene of Britain.
  15. THATMOVEGUY
    Nov 3, 2007
    7
    Control, above all else, truly captures the total apathy towards life necessary in any person's mind to take their own life. It's a journey into something beyond despair, and like one of the above journalists said "you don't watch this movie, you live it". As a Joy Division fan, I was a little frustrated that they only really concentrated on the band's earlier stage, Control, above all else, truly captures the total apathy towards life necessary in any person's mind to take their own life. It's a journey into something beyond despair, and like one of the above journalists said "you don't watch this movie, you live it". As a Joy Division fan, I was a little frustrated that they only really concentrated on the band's earlier stage, but as a film, it actually works to the director's end this way. The cinematography really struck me from the beginning of the film, each shot was just really perfect, as the film goes on the shots make less and less sense, which adds to the "mood", or more correctly, the utter lack of. Sam Riley should get an Oscar nomination for this performance, beyond brilliant through the whole film. Samantha Morton also plays her part terrifically. I Corbijn would have highlighted the "fun" times of the band (if there were any), something that showed them really excited about what they were doing. The movie really puts Joy Division as SUCH as side note to Curtis' story that it actually took away from the realism to me, at least a little bit. The timing of some of the songs at certain key scenes, seemed to come in too soon also. It gave me a feeling of the story being rushed by, where there could have beens more space to allow events to sink in with the audience more. Aside from these minor qualms, the key point about "Control" to me, was it's sterility. I left the theatre feeling utterly distraught, without any of the emotion that Curtis spent his short career expressing so beautifully. This, to me, is the movies greatest flaw and strength, depending on how you react to it, or just choose to view it. In reflection, I admire the boldness of the film, and not turning it into just another musician biopic. Probably worth seeing, but whether you are stunned by the films' artistry and power or just drained of all life by the end, is just a matter of chance. I find myself somewhere in between. Expand
  16. EricG.
    Feb 11, 2008
    10
    Riley gives a great performance as Ian Curtis, hitting the character perfectly (not just voice or attitude, but also those small little gestures. Cate Blanchett did this in portraying Dylan in "I'm Not There"). Corbijn makes a wonderful turn in his feature debut.
  17. Sep 17, 2010
    8
    Not really a Joy Division fan but enjoyed this. Beautifully shot, moving & some excellent acting by Sam Riley, Samantha Morton & the ever brilliant Toby Kebbell.
    Nice to see Macclesfield getting a bit of recognition.
  18. May 25, 2013
    8
    Shot entirely in black and white I found this film very atmospheric and it also had a gritty realism about it. I thought all the performances were excellent with both Sam Riley and Samantha Morton taking top honours. I also have to give a mention to Toby Kebbell who totally stole a couple of scenes with some great over-the-top one-liners. The story is primarily told from Debbie’s point ofShot entirely in black and white I found this film very atmospheric and it also had a gritty realism about it. I thought all the performances were excellent with both Sam Riley and Samantha Morton taking top honours. I also have to give a mention to Toby Kebbell who totally stole a couple of scenes with some great over-the-top one-liners. The story is primarily told from Debbie’s point of view and as such we get a very interesting look at the life of this enigmatic soul. This film inspired me to go out and buy a Joy Division greatest hits CD and it’s music that’s always been close to my heart. I should mention that all the live performances portrayed in the film were performed by the actors and so hat’s off to them for making it real. Whether you were a fan of the band or not I’m sure you’ll get something out of this one. Be warned though, it’s quite a tough watch, even when you do know the outcome.

    SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED

    My score: 8.4/10
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  19. Nov 17, 2012
    9
    The result is a shockingly human and aptly perceptive biopic.
  20. Aug 7, 2013
    9
    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
    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.
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Metascore
78

Generally favorable reviews - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. 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.
  2. Control is director Anton Corbijin's first feature, and he too frequently makes the mistake of falling back on his rock video skills.
  3. 88
    One of the most perceptive of rock music biopics.