Hot Docs 2015 Review: Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck
The latest doc on the legendary Nirvana front man may not have too much to new say – at least nothing particularly surprising – but it certainly tries to make you feel what he feels. A dizzying array of sights and sounds, and plenty grotesque animations and jarring music fill the screen in between interviews and anecdotes, bringing the viewer as close to a world of confusion and despair as possible.
Thus, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck rises and falls based on your interest in the central figure, your dedication to figuring out as much as possible about the plagued artist. That it’s immersive is positive and negative.
From director Brett Morgen, interviews with family members, access to home videos, animated accompaniment to stories, the re-animation of words and pictures make for a comprehensive though focused biography. Everything smarty revolves around Cobain, and with all the major moments, we return to what he was thinking – or possibly thinking.
The interviews, including that by Courtney Love, Cobain’s wife, are curious but not necessarily definitive. Because this is deeply personal to those being questioned (daughter Francis Bean and drummer Dave Grohl are not interviewed) and as it would seem, those behind the camera too, Cobain doesn’t feel as comprehensive as it wants to. It’s more perspective and reflection than objection, and perhaps everyone’s thoughts have slowly changed over the generation since Cobain passed.
It serves those familiar and interested in the iconic musician, but to those on the outside, the dive into a chaotic world of loud music, fatal drugs, and hyperactivity is a distressing one.