Joy Division tells the interesting character story of Thomas, a young man who is currently on assignment in England during the Cold War working as a spy for a Russian agency. Using monologue and flash back techniques the movie unfolds Thomas’ life story of how his country, Germany, was ravaged by the war and how he was conscripted into Hitler’s ‘Joy Division’ for youth. After the Russian invasion Thomas is orphaned and goes onto work for the very people who have destroyed his family and his country. Actors Ed Stoppard and Bernard Hill both do a great job but the best performance has to be German actor Tom Schilling as the young Thomas who is forced from being a victim to becoming a soldier at only 14.
It was interesting to see a film that takes the other side of the coin when it comes to the war, showing the suffering of the German people at the hands of the Russians rather than the other way around. However, so much of the movie relies on flashbacks that it becomes a little tedious and hard to follow the growth of the character as he moves through his life and tries to figure out who he really is. The set design and art department have undoubtedly done amazing work with the time periods of the ‘40’s and the bright and colourful ‘60’s but your always aware of that gap between the two which puts you off and makes it harder link them together.
This debut film for director Reg Traviss has potential to tell a great story, but the actual storytelling may have let him down on this one. The performances are great and I’m sure that it’s historically accurate (not that literature student like me would know if it wasn’t) but in the end it comes off as just another war-espionage movie to add to the ever growing pile.