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.

One thought on “Love Will Tear Us Apart

  1. Luca

    How could anyone argue with the panache and punk furore of Curtis? The poetics and vocal prowess of a band that gave expression to the pathos of discontent like a Sysophian derisive bard vindicating Albion’ s bleak Tatcher insomnia. By contrast New Order was merely an orphaned pop segue wallowing in overcompensating torpid spectres in alienatied echoes of a beleaguered dissensus. Joy Division’s confluence of the harrowing sensibility of an existential angst with the crass yet tender epileptic soulscape of Ian Curtis rings yet with harmony, owing to its immortal subcultural stupor. Thanks to the Village East Cinemas America has the chance to experience a life and a genius deserving a better stage. However Tony, the melodramatics leave a bit to be desired and make of Curtis’ life the cause of distructive tendencies rahter than the symptom, whenas we should rather concentrate on the psychological depth of a man ill deserving such psychoanalytical dexterity in favour of the nuanced metasocial engagement absorbingly exhibited in the rhythmic delicacy of Joy Division’s musical languor.

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