I know I’m not the first person to review this movie. I also know I’m not necessarily the best person to review it, as I’ve never been the biggest fan of Joy Division. I know, I know, I now give up all rights to ever be called a “music blogger” again. But what can I say – I like my music a little, erm, warmer?
But putting all that aside, I was interested in seeing the film – if not for the story behind it, for the fact that it was shot by Anton Corbijn. He of U2 Joshua Tree-era photos. There’s a fairly good chance that you know his work, even if you don’t know you know it. Personally, I’m a big fan of his style – none of that “dressing up rock stars in weird outfits” stuff. Just raw photos of people.
So Saturday night, P and I decided to go check out the film at the Ken Cinema. First off, let me say, and yes this does deserve capital letters, THE KEN CINEMA SELLS TIM-TAMS. What are Tim-Tams, you ask? Well, sir, they are magically delicious cookies, or biscuits, made by Arnott’s Biscuits in Australia. Hands down the best cookies I have ever eaten. But I haven’t seen/eaten them since I left Fiji in 2004. So I bought a box of the Classic Dark variety (they also had the Double Coat ones) for $6.50. Well worth it. I might be going to the Ken Cinema more, if only to buy these cookies.
But back to the movie. I’m not so unfamiliar with Joy Division that I didn’t know how the movie was going to end, and in that respect, watching the film, and waiting for the ending, was torturous. But it was a beautiful kind of torture (if there is such a thing), because the way the movie was shot, any one of the still frames used could have made for a great black and white photograph. But not in a hit-you-over-the-head-with-pretension kind of way. The effect is subtle, and I’m not sure if you would pick up on if it not specifically looking for it, like I was.
But like I said, I was watching the whole movie with dread for the ending. I think the whole subject was handled very honestly, even though it was based on the book written by Ian’s wife. You felt sympathy for Ian, but at the same time, you couldn’t ignore the fact that he was very selfish and immature. But hell, he was 23 when he committed suicide. Everyone’s a little selfish and immature at that point. But not everyone has to deal with a wife, child, and burgeoning rock career at that age.
The film points to many causes for Ian’s suicide. His marriage to someone that he didn’t really love, or couldn’t love the way he felt he should. His child whom he hardly ever saw, and who he was convinced was going to hate him when she grew up, no matter how hard he tried to be a decent father. His relationship with Annik Honore, which he was unable to end, even after his wife found out about her. His epilepsy, and the resulting drugs used for its treatment, none of which seemed to work. His music, which may have started as an outlet, but became just another source of stress and guilt in his life.
Ultimately, I think what the film is getting at is trying to reconcile a “big city” career with a “small town” life. Given one without the other, perhaps Curtis would have been happy, or at least happier. But he was being pulled in two different directions by music and his home life, and eventually, they both failed him.
As a final note, I’d just like to say that watching Ian’s final epileptic seizure brought about the same feeling I got when watching the ending of Kids. You just wish someone would enter from stage left and make it all stop – but no one does.