Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck
Director: Brett Morgen
Year of Release: 2015
Running Time: 2 hours 12 minutes
Perhaps the most shocking revelation in Brett Morgan's new documentary Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck is the notion that the rock idol frontman of Nirvana was essentially a lost child who desperately wanted a family. Using archival footage, scrawled journal entries, drawings, home videos, animation, and talking-head interviews, Morgan creates a rich and intensely powerful rendering of the man, his music, and the legacy he left behind. While not a fawning tribute, there's no doubt the film is invigorated and propelled by Kobain's reclusive genius; with rapid-fire collage-like editing and plenty of Nirvana songs carrying things along, but there's also a sense of lingering sadness piercing every frame. Morgan effectively captures the aimlessness and abandonment Cobain felt as a teenager, creating a narrative trajectory of a damaged child whose anguished voice would one day connect with millions. There are omissions; (drummer Dave Grohl is suspiciously absent, as is the inter-personal dynamics of the band), but this perhaps speaks more to the fact that the film is about Kobain, not Nirvana. As such, it's a deeply humane portrait of someone caught between private pain and pop idol stardom.