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If you are already a fan of Nirvana or Kurt Cobain, this documentary is a wish come true. However, if you are just vaguely interested, or simply curious, this documentary will feel like information overload.
Trigger Warning: Suicide/ Suicidal Thoughts
Review (with Spoilers) – Below
Characters & Story
From childhood to within weeks of his suicide, the film nearly covers everything and includes all the most important people you would expect commenting on Kurt. His mother, Wendy O’Connor, speaks about him as a child, as well as father Don Cobain. His friends and sister comment on his upbringing, as well as ex-girlfriends, and even Courtney Love is included.
The best thing about this film is the intimacy and vulnerability of it. For while no one sheds tears, there is this constant sense that each moment talking about either Kurt at his most manic stage, or depressive, is pulling at the scabs of their soul. After all, the film doesn’t have groupies, or anyone who seemingly would have been a small part of Kurt’s life. No. It has his wife, his mother, his father, and people who would have been in his inner circle for years. I mean, outside of his Nirvana bandmates, pretty much the people who contain the truth are here.
Though it is really us getting to see the multitude of footage and artwork of Kurt which makes this movie. For while everyone talks about him, the footage damn near brings Kurt to life. For as we get to see Kurt speak for himself, show himself, and we get to see his writing and art, it leads the movie to transcend from an homage to Kurt, to almost a séance in which it seems everyone is trying to awaken the dead. Something it eerily does with every laugh, every depressing moment, and even as we come to the conclusion, you feel lost in time as if maybe he might still be alive.
And the remaining thing worth praise are the transitions used between different parts of Kurt’s life. For while many use his writing, it is the animation which captures you. Be it an animated Kurt, which looks so good it may trick you for a second, or what can be assumed to be his drawings being animated to represent his thoughts. Each and every one brings a sort of trippy vibe to the film which, as we get to know Kurt, seems to perfectly fit with the personality we are told about.
As someone who came into the film more curious than a fan, I must say the two hours felt long at times. For while the film is very informative, and provides a lot of insight, sometimes it does feel like they wanted to use all the footage they could find vs. making something which simply got the point across. To put it to you in another way, this film has the same length, and amount of detail, one would see if book adaptations tried to stay completely faithful to the source material and tried to cut out as little as possible.
Overall: Worth Seeing
While this documentary isn’t leading to me wanting to listen to Nirvana and doesn’t build anticipation for the Kurt Cobain solo album, it does leave you strangely satisfied. For it reminds me of VH1’s Behind the Music and presents perhaps one of the best documentaries, I’ve seen, on a musician in a while. And while it didn’t turn me into a fan, I can see this making fans exuberantly happy and turning a few people into fans of Kurt and his music.
“I thought because I liked him, I loved him.”
— Cobain: Montage of Heck