UK Release date: 5th October 2007
Watched on Sky+ Saturday 25th May 2013.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I have to admit I have seen this film before and liked it very much. I was going to use the word ‘enjoyed’, but that doesn’t seem right given the way things end. It was around the time I was leaving school that Joy Division were making records and I have to admit to being a bit of a fan and so I may be slightly biased. Based on the book “Touching from a Distance” by Deborah Curtis, it tells the story of the front man of the band Joy Division, Ian Curtis. Based on fact and shot in black and white, I found it both atmospheric and gritty. Here’s a very brief summary before I give you my thoughts in more detail.
Ian Curtis (Sam Riley) was a very enigmatic character and we first meet him during his final days at school where he meets Deborah (Samantha Morton). Before we know it they are married and Ian joins a band, originally called ‘Warsaw’ but later they changed it to ‘Joy Division’. The other band members were; Hookey (Joe Anderson), Bernard Sumner (James Anthony Pearson) and Steve Morris (Harry Treadaway). This is all happening at the time Punk was becoming popular, around 1977/78 and with bands like the Buzzcocks (from the same area) making a mark, they were in the right place at the right time. They get a manager, Rob Gretton (Toby Kebbell) and a TV spot with Tony Wilson (Craig Parkinson) that shoots them into the public conscience. A record deal follows and they seem to be on their way. But things are not that straightforward for Ian, he has epilepsy and the medication doesn’t help. With Debbie pregnant his eye wanders and is caught by a Belgian, Annik Honore (Alexandra Maria Lara). The focus is now on Ian’s internal struggle between doing the right thing by Debbie and following Annik. It all ends quite tragically (sorry if that’s a spoiler, but the film is based on fact).
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 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.
IMDb Score: 7.7/10 (based on 35,785 votes when this review was written).
MetaScore: 78/100: (Based on 27 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 88/100 (based on 47,182 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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