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Anton Corbijn transcends the conventions of the rock biopic with his reverberating portrait of Ian Curtis, the lyricist and front man for Joy Division, who committed suicide at 23 just as the postpunk band was taking off. The movie sheds light on Curtis's death by focusing on the ordinary aspects of his life; he was dogged by poverty, early marriage, fatherhood, and the onset of epilepsy even as Joy Division gathered a local following, broke through on TV, and signed with Tony Wilson's Factory Records. Martin Ruhe's lustrous black-and-white cinematography evokes the tumultuous Manchester of the late 70s, a working-class milieu enlivened by punk. Sam Riley is fascinating as Curtis, a hypersensitive young man hobbled by his incurable disease, and Samantha Morton is poignant as his put-upon wife. R, 121 min.

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