(2007) dir. Anton Corbijn
viewed: 11/27/07 at Opera Plaza Cinemas, SF, CA
Shot in black-and-white, though I have read that it was shot in color and transferred black-and-white, here is the story of Ian Curtis, singer of the band, Joy Division. Black-and-white is an odd issue for me with the film, actually. I mean, I’ve been a fan of the music for years and am pretty well familiar with the basics of the story…I mean, we all know how it’s going to end, and we all know that it’s not going to be very upbeat, telling the tale of a depressive epileptic who commited suicide at age 23 just before his band was to go on its first tour of America. And there is a part of me, and I assume others familiar with the music and the band, that think “black-and-white,…of course”.
Most of the images that I’ve seen of Curtis have been black-and-white. It’s stuff that nears iconography. I guess that is the trouble with legends made in their untimely deaths.
Still, I feel that this film’s visual aesthetic as a black-and-white film was kind of weak. It lacks character, even if it seems right. And ultimately, did it really need to be in black-and-white?
I don’t know why this bugged me. But it did.
The film itself is decent. The actors all do their parts, and Sam Riley, who plays Curtis, manages to navigate the character without overburdoning him. This film could easily have been a dirge. Given short shrift in Michael Winterbottom’s 24 Hour Party People (2002), it’s interesting to see the story played out, a deeper inspection of life story of a very significant band and musician. And it is sad. Not overwhelmingly so, but it resonated for me at times, and I left feeling moderately depressed. Imagine that.