Joy Division review

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Not to be confused with upcoming Ian Curtis biopic Closer, Joy Division does share a certain bleakness with its Manc-band namesake. Well, in one half at least – for this schizoid beast lurches between World War Two refugee drama and Cold War spy thriller.

Linking the two is Thomas, a fleeing German teen who’s whisked behind the Iron Curtain, emerging in Swinging London as a KGB agent (The Pianist ’s Ed Stoppard). Despite umbrella guns, counter-conspiracies and a perky Michelle Gayle, the ’60s scenes aren’t as forceful as the flashbacks to the Eastern Front, with tanks, crowds and fire-fights wrangled impressively on a minor budget. Juggling technical élan with musings on memory, identity and freedom, it’s an ambitious debut from Brit director Reg Traviss. But maybe next time he shouldn’t try to make two films at once.

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