Joy Division (15)

Directed by Grant Gee

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

This is a top notch warts-and-all documentary about one of the seminal bands in the history of rock music, who I had the privilege to see at Eric's club in Liverpool when I was a teenager.

Despite the critical acclaim the film Control - a biopic of the band's lead singer Ian Curtis - received last year, I steer clear of fictionalised accounts of rock musicians or bands. They tend to be awful, but this was a brilliant portrait, which was superbly edited.

A major bonus was the inclusion of a lot of live concert footage which few people had previously seen, as well as a series of outstanding photographs of them rehearsing in a disused warehouse in Manchester before they received critical acclaim.

The demise of Curtis, a gifted lyricist and singer, was tragic, but it was also equally sad to see Tony Wilson, the founder of Joy Division's label Factory Records, bravely facing the cameras a couple of weeks before he died of cancer. He recalled his memories of the band and the political and cultural scene in Manchester in the grim times of the late 1970s.

A notable absentee from this tribute to Curtis was his wife Deborah, who wrote the book Touching From A Distance about their life together. But it is telling that his artist girlfriend Annik Honore appears quite often to give her account of her love for him and her concern about his disintegrating mental state. Apparently she is portrayed as a predatory woman in Control... see what I mean about fictionalised accounts?

Click here for an in-depth and fascinating account of the film.

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