Director: Brett Morgan
In the 21 years since he shot himself Cobain, like Lennon, has been mythologized until the living breathing person ceases to exist under the weight of books and conjecture. This film attempts to tear that down and show us the man. For someone who complained bitterly about always being under scrutiny he didn’t half spend a lot of time filming or being filmed whilst at home. From early Super8 footage of the toddling Kurt through to early embryonic Nirvana gigs to crowning glories like Reading 1992 and MTV Unplugged.
Most revealing of all is the footage with Courtney & Frances and the Christmas 1993 of the trio taking a bath contains no hint of the downturn in their fortunes. Rather than forensically rake over the events leading to his death, the film ends with the painful echo of ‘Where Did You Sleep Last Night’. The film reveals a man not built for fame – his fear of being ridiculed, his sense of abandonment mixed with illness and a long heroin habit to make everything bearable all ultimately becoming too much. You are reminded of the great power of the music he left behind and that once he lost his passion of playing live he really was in trouble. Naturally with any project that has such access to home movies, demos, live footage and interviewees there may well be a slanted narrative being put forward but it’s hard to deny that a witty, smart and sensitive side of Cobain is on show. Only close to the end do we get the sense of him becoming unresponsive to those around him.
The one large gap in the story is Grohl but this is probably as close to a definitive documentary on Cobain we are likely to get. The inner workings of the band, changes in membership etc are perhaps for another film, Montage Of Heck has it’s focus on Kurt’s story as he at first enjoys and then is shell-shocked by Nirvana’s rapid rise to superstardom – it’s a shame the man seen goofing around with his baby daughter and friends couldn’t find a way to cope with his pain
Might appeal to people who enjoyed:
The Bill Hicks ‘American’ documentary which used many of the visual tricks of making still pictures live but taking it further to make his doodles and writing dance across the screen.