Filmmaker Grant Gee speaks with now-deceased Factory Records founder Tony Wilson; legendary producer Martin Hannett; surviving Joy Division band members Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris, and Peter Hook; and the late Ian Curtis's Belgian lover Annik Honoré in order to offer a vivid snapshot of the fleeting moment in time when Manchester's Joy Division changed the face of modern music. Born in the bleak landscape of industrialized Manchester -- a city that once thrived as a center of 19th century manufacturing but was far removed from its halcyon days by the time the band was founded -- Joy Division combined the energy of punk rock with the anger and alienation of their generation to stunning effect. When he wasn't pouring every ounce of his personal energy into penning poetic lyrics for a band that seemed to thrive on chaos, volatile frontman Curtis supported his family by working in the civil service as an Assistant Disablement Resettlement Officer. In 1980, as the band was set to embark on their first-ever North American tour, Curtis took his own life at the age of 23. In addition to offering the remarkable story of Joy Division as told by the very people who were privileged enough to have been there at that crucial moment in musical history, Gee's film also offers a meditation on the city that was struggling to reinvent itself following a devastating collapse. While Curtis's widow Deborah does not appear onscreen, text from her biography Touching from a Distance appear as a constant reminder of her presence in the talented musician's brilliant but fleeting life.
by Jason Buchanan synopsis