DRAMA; 2hr 2min

STARRING: Sam Riley, Samantha Morton

Joyless: Riley

In 1973, Ian Curtis (Riley) is a schoolboy in depressive Macclesfield, England, with a thing for David Bowie, introspective poetry and flirty young Debbie (the reliably phenomenal Morton). After they marry, 19-year-old Ian takes a pen-pushing job at the local Employment Exchange and joins a band that becomes Joy Division. Their sound is sharp and exciting, yet while Ian is revered as a lead singer, his epilepsy and marriage oppress him, another woman (Alexandra Maria Lara) seduces him and the road is a lure and a noose.


Newcomer Riley is dead-on as Curtis, who, until it too overwhelmed him, found a clarity in music that he never otherwise managed. Shooting in a grungy black-and-white that bleakly defines entrapment, director Anton Corbijn deconstructs Curtis’s decline as the instability of a young man helplessly at odds with life. Nothing mind bending in that, but Curtis took it one huge step further with his suicide in 1986. He was 23 years old and the ultimate casualty of himself.