Since the film has to include Ian Curtis's suicide at 23, it's obviously not going to be entirely cheerful. Actually, the film turned out to be both funnier and more heartbreaking than director Corbijn's previous focus on producing videos for U2 and Bryan Adams might suggest.
Shot in brutal-beautiful black and white cinematography, and with a great sound track, the film covers Curtis's brief adolescent/adult life, particularly getting married to Deborah Woodruff (a fantastic performance here from Samantha Morton) while they were both teenagers, and of course, The Joy Division.
The film covers Curtis's fears about his epilepsy and the effect of the drugs he was taking to control it, and the pressure and vulnerability the bands sucess brought, the films central tradegedy is given over to Curis's affair with Annik Honoré. It's testament to the actors and director's abilities that Curtis doesn't just come off as a complete git - having an affair with one woman while his wife was stuck at home with their baby daughter. Sam Riley, who got to play Mark E. Smith in 2002's 24 Hour Party People, which focused on Tony Wilson and also included Curtis's suicide, is outstanding here. Torn between the debt he owes to Deborah for supporting the band in it's early days and the obvious security she provides, and being head over heels with the more intellectually compatible and also pretty hot Annik, Ian is portrayed as confused, weak, unable to cope with the situation, and a terrible dad.
Joe Anderson puts in a great performance as Peter Hook, and while Craig Parkinson isn't a good a Tony Wilson as Alan Coogan was, he does leave you wishing that there were a longer list of Wilson impersonators. Best of all is Toby Kebbell as Rob Gretton, who storms through the film as the bands ballsy, sweary manager, getting the best lines and stealing every scene he's in. My favourite? After a performance has been cut short by a Curtis's on-stage fit, Gretton dismissing his misery with "Cheer up, it could be worse. You could be the lead singer in The Fall".