The Persistence of Control

I can’t stop thinking about Control. I’m not sure why. I think it has to do with the movie’s intense inwardness — it’s a demonstration of “show, don’t tell” in the way it simply observes Ian Curtis in the last four years of his life. There’s no sense that the filmmaker, Anton Corbijn, has an axe to grind; there’s nothing in the script, direction or performances that says, “Here’s what you’re supposed to think about this.”

I’m not sure I can write with that kind of detachment, but I’m fairly certain I shouldn’t try. My thing is to write how something feels, how it seems to my character. Because of that, when I’m in that character’s head, I’m a partisan. I’ve taken that character’s side. The hard part is that I’m also aware of what other characters think and feel, but I still have to write the scene from the POV character’s side.

But I still think I can take something from the movie. I think I can borrow its confidence in its quiet. It’s willing to be still and low-key, resisting any impulse to reach out and grab the viewer by the lapels. It’s willing to risk loss of attention, because it trusts that it’s audience won’t lose interest. That trust in my audience is the lesson this movie can teach me.

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