My main reason for wanting to watch this was because I’ve long been a fan of Anton Corbijn’s photography, with its trademark deep shadows. Visually, this film is stunning and the atmosphere is only enhanced by the fact that it’s shot in black and white. It really resonated with me, bringing back the time when I once saw Joy Division playing a scuzzy dive in run-down, late 70s Manchester.
Some of the accuracy of the chronology of events has been challenged elsewhere (e.g. at what point Ian met Annik), but this is not a documentary, so some dramatic licence can be forgiven. As a story, it does have narrative integrity (although it helps if you know the background and can identify some of the protagonists), hangs together pretty well and is convincingly acted. The portrayal of some well-known and larger-than-life characters manages to avoid caricature, which is a welcome relief. It’s absolutely not a feel-good movie, but it has great presence. Settle in to feast your eyes on a slow-burn, smouldering cigarette of a film, with great atmosphere.