Monthly Archives: November 2007

Love Will Tear Us Apart

I just watched Control, a new British-made biopic about Ian Curtis, the lead singer of Joy Division, who committed suicide in 1980.

I was a big fan of Joy Division when I was an angst-ridden goth teenager growing up in Sheffield in the early eighties. I still have the original Factory Records vinyl releases of the first three LP’s (Unknown Pleasures, Closer and Still — which my father always complained sounded like “funeral dirges”), and recently recovered my old Unknown Pleasures and Closer posters when I finally emptied my storage lock-up in London last year (they’re now framed and on the walls of my apartment in Brooklyn).

I even found a ratty old T-shirt in my lock-up, with the arms hacked off and sized for the skinny teenager that I was then, with the classic Peter Saville Unknown Pleasures design (above). It’s extremely embarrassing to admit now, but in the throes of some teenage angst, I even wrote Curtis a posthumous letter about three years after he died.

Unfortunately I never got to see Joy Division play live; Curtis had been dead for two years before my family moved to Sheffield and I first heard “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” at 14 years old, on a compilation cassette given to me by a friend. I did see New Order, the band that the remaining members of Joy Division formed after Curtis’ death, at Sheffield University’s Octagon Centre in about 1986; they were a bit shite, to be honest.

Anyway, Anton Corbijn’s Control was excellent; the dialogue was convincing, the casting and acting was great, the black & white cinematography was beautiful (as you’d expect from a successful rock photographer), and both the soundtrack and sound design were expertly handled. And although the overall tone of the movie was unavoidably a bit grim and dour, there was enough comic relief — particularly from the foul-mouthed Rob Gretton manager character — to keep it enjoyable throughout. My only complaint is that the movie was about 20-30 minutes too long (although this perception may have been caused by my increasingly full bladder).

Anyway, here’s the trailer — highly recommended.