On May 18, 1980, Deborah Curtis walked into her kitchen and found her husband, Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, hanged to death. As depicted in Anton Corbijn'sControl, his feature debut, the event is all hers, shot from a distance, outside, across the street. Not even their infant daughter is present, having been left out in the car for what was to be just a moment. And certainly we, the audience, aren't brought in to examine the body, as we might have by another film.
It makes sense, because Control is based on Deborah Curtis' book "Touching from a Distance" (she also produced the film), which has been adapted here by Matt Greenhalgh. The moment should be all hers; it was her loss more than anyone's, in many ways. And at least in the way he's portrayed in the film, Ian Curtis did it just to hurt her, and that's what he's done, and that's what is shown. Sure, he may have been tortured, or unstable or anything else that could defend such a selfish act as suicide, but here he's pretty much a coward who couldn't make up his mind nor face up to any decision he actually was able to make.
Control begins in 1973, when Ian Curtis (Sam Riley) is a bored teenager in Macclesfield, England, listening to Bowie, Roxy Music and Mott the Hoople as all the young dudes of '70s Britain should. Fitting with the glam music, he wears furs and eyeliner, but what makes the setting unsettling is how void of color it is. Yes, Control was shot in black and white, which is only initially strange if you associate the glam scene with anything but an achromatic palette. And it completely foreshadows the wan and ultimately neutral behavior the singer would exhibit throughout the rest of his short, should-have-been-vibrant life.