Sam Riley, Samantha Morton, Craig Parkinson. Directed by Anton Corbijn.
Most people already know how the sad story of Joy Division’s troubled singer Ian Curtis ends. But you may not know how it began, and it’s quite a surprise that photographer-turned-filmmaker Anton Corbijn’s intimate biography is, at least for most of its running time, so entertaining, so starkly beautiful to watch and often so very funny. He charts the band’s extraordinary evolution from the back streets of Macclesfield to the eve of what would have been a transformative first American tour. Sadly it was not to be. The film is adapted from the memoir by Curtis’s widow Debbie – a strong but unshowy performance by Samantha Morton – but it is Sam Riley as Curtis who forms the emotional core of the movie as its deeply troubled protagonist. It’s a quite exceptional incarnation of an iconic musician who, far too young, found himself unable to cope with his failing marriage, health problems and the brutal demands of life on the road.