“You don’t have to know anything about Joy Division to grasp the mysterious sorrow at the heart” of Anton Corbijn’s Control, writes N.Y. Times critic A.O. Scott. “No doubt aware of what this movie will mean to devotees of post-punk melancholy, [Corbijn] sticks to the human dimensions of the narrative rather than turning out yet another show business fable. Where it might have been literal-minded and sentimental, Control is instead enigmatic and moving, much in the manner of Joy Division’s best songs.”

Scott declares that Sam Riley, the “hollow-eyed and gentle-looking” portrayer of the late Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, “is crucial to the film’s effectiveness. Since Curtis is known more by his deep, plangent voice than by his face or his physical presence, Riley does not labor under the burden of mimicry. His performance is quiet, charismatic and a little opaque, in keeping with the movie’s careful, detached approach to its subject.”