Review: Joy Division (2008)

joydivisionDirected by Grant Gee

Starring: Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris, Tony Wilson, Paul Morley

Joy Division is not a documentary about the band Joy Division. Or, rather, it’s not that simple. It’s about the English city of Manchester in the 1970s: the rain-soaked, crumbling, devastated, crime-infested and hopeless city that helped form the band and that they in turn kick-started culturally. Inevitably, it must delicately contend with the suicide of singer Ian Curtis and the still-raw wound of his relationships with his wife, Deborah, and his lover, Anik Honore.

But it’s more than that. And it’s not just the story, told through archive and bootleg footage, of a band capable of glacial intimacy in the studio and brutal confrontation onstage (sometimes courtesy of bassist Peter Hook’s fists). It’s the enthrallingly told tale of musicians and producers and journalists and managers, so many of them now dead, that took all that bleakness and despair and turned it into something that summed up their world.

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