Being an avid (borderline obsessive) Kurt Cobain & Nirvana fan I had high hopes for this documentary. The life of Kurt Cobain has fascinated me for as long as I have liked music, the general topic of musicians who’s lives were cut short has always had a certain grip on me, and Kurt Cobain’s especially so. I have read all the books, biography and journals and I assumed I had a pretty god knowledge of the topic, when it was announced this film would be released my excitement boiled over, perhaps there was even more to the story, a deep personal, insiders look at the life of this personality that brought the troubled youth of the world together. I was to be disappointed.
The early moments of the film were watchable but offered no insight you couldn’t have gained from an internet search. Sure the interviews with Kurt’s parents were ample visual stimulus to stay engaged but I felt like the information portrayed only skimmed the very surface. I felt like director Brett Morgan, could have delved deeper into some of stories from Cobain’s youth that some claimed shaped some of his troubles in later life.
The use of arty montages splits my opinion at this point, part of me love the graphic use of a pulsing intestine, which I can only assume is relating to the chronic stomach condition Cobain claimed to have, and part of me cannot stand the cartoon style animation depicting Cobain and his friends. These montages are voiced-over by what sounds to be Cobain himself but without any confirmation it really leaves you wondering. Personally I felt that if Morgan had made it known that it was a genuine voice-over I would have found the scene infinitely more interesting.
My biggest gripe with this documentary is the leap it makes from childhood to the formative stages of Nirvana. The film overlooks some of the most poignant moments in the development of Cobain’s musical persona. Forgive me if I am wrong, but I am not sure the film mentions any of Kurt’s musical influences, most importantly (in my mind) his love of the Melvins. It was just kind of sad that such important information was left out for the sake of making the film more abstract, I was really hoping for some hard-hitting inside information of a subject that has been fairly well documented already, however I found nothing new.
The documentary progresses through the rise of Nirvana in the normal manner you would expect, again not really opening any new doors or unexplored avenues. The only element I can draw out of the latter stages of this documentary that I could claim to like is the footage from home videos and some rather distressing images of Cobain, clearly under the influence of heroin, trying to care for his child, Frances Bean.
As far as the end of this documentary is concerned, well, I’ll leave that up to you to decide, but I found it as disappointing as the rest of the film, and after 145 minutes that was a big shame. Brett Morgan had the tools to create something truly incredible, and the time frame that would of allowed him to explore some of the lesser known avenues, but he didn’t do that, and I’m not sure he tried.