Movie Review: Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck (2015)

Posted: June 1, 2015 in Documentary
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Kurt Cobain

Writer/director Brett Morgen documents the life of grunge rocker Kurt Cobain, by interviewing his mom, dad, stepmother, ex-girlfriend, wife Cortney Love, and bandmate Krist Novoselic .The movie also features a lot of home movies from Cobain’s family and from Kurt and Courtney.

Kurt Cobain’s life would be a cautionary tale if it wasn’t so commonplace among rock stars.  A young boy is verbally abused by his father, abandoned by his mother, and alienated by his peers in school. At one point in the documentary, Cobain even says he didn’t want to end up dead, overdosed on drugs, because he knows that it’s a rock star cliché. Despite my many posts about and admiration for the Foo Fighters, I never liked Nirvana, I thought Soundgarden was the best band to come out of the grunge scene in Seattle.  Cobain strikes me as a bit of a phony, he rails against critics, but buys into their voice of a dispossessed generation characterization of him. He loves his art, but he loves heroin more, he loves his child, but he loves heroin more.  Here’s where the documentary is instructive, in their home movies, they look like great parents, they dote over their daughter as any new parents would, but the documentary tells us that Frances Bean was born with a heroin addiction, and that means the loved heroin more than their child.  If Kurt is a phony, Courtney Love is a bigger phony, she seemed to only love that she was married to a rock star and all the fame and attention it brought her.

How is this movie as a documentary? The access that Morgen got into Kurt and Courtney’s life is pretty impressive, the story it tells is pretty depressing, the length is too long over two hours, and at times, director Morgen tries to spice things up by animating some scenes from Cabain’s teen years, those flourishes are unnecessary.  And how can Morgen have a documentary of Cobain without interviewing Dave Grohl?  I saw lots of old footage of Dave and Kurt together, but no sit down interview with Grohl.  That is inexcusable.  If this documentary was some kind of attempt to rehabilitate Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love, in return for access to these home movies, it should have never been made.  Dave Grohl’s lack of participation makes me wonder what the motives were.

Montage of Heck:  It is Nirvana for Cobain’s fans, for the rest of us…Heck if I know.

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