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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 May 2007, 17:31 GMT 18:31 UK
Critics applaud Joy Division film
By Stephen Robb
Entertainment reporter, BBC News, in Cannes

Sam Riley as Ian Curtis
British actor Sam Riley makes his film debut playing Ian Curtis
A British film about the life and death of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, starring a first-time actor, has earned a rapturous reception in Cannes.

Unknown Sam Riley said he was "working in a warehouse in Leeds folding shirts" when he was cast to star in Control.

Debut film director Anton Corbijn said the newcomer had brought "an innocence and freshness that I was hoping for but never thought I would find".

The movie opened the 60th Cannes Film Festival's Director's Fortnight.

"This is a very hard role for anybody to play, because it is very hard to fit in somebody's shoes who has become an icon in many people's eyes," said the Dutch director.

Ian Curtis
Ian Curtis left a wife and young daughter when he died in 1980
"I can't think of the movie without Sam, to be very honest - I think he gave everything to that role.

"It was his first film, it was my first film - in a way we had nothing to lose."

Control, which also stars Samantha Morton as Curtis's wife, follows the singer's rise with Joy Division until his suicide in 1980, aged 23.

The singer battles epilepsy and is torn between his love for his wife and a Belgian girlfriend he meets while on tour.

Riley said his research involved studying the effects of epilepsy, as well as viewing surviving footage of Curtis's performances.

Anton Corbijn
Director Anton Corbijn made his name as a photographer
"I spent a lot of time in the mirror doing dance moves," he said.

"I tried to play him as a fairly normal bloke, with an exceptional talent.

"He was an incredibly enigmatic performer - unusual, and uncomfortable in a way. And a fantastic lyricist for his age, for any age."

The surviving members of Joy Division, who became New Order, have seen the finished film, Corbijn said.

"They hardly ever agree on anything together, but they have agreed that they all love the film."

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