Film Review – Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck (2015)

Title – Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck (2015)

Director – Brett Morgen (Chicago 10)

Cast – Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic

Plot – An intimate look at the life and times of Nirvana front man and grunge rock music legend Kurt Cobain told via archival footage, talking heads, animation and Kurt’s own diary entries. 

 “I wanted to be a vandal and hold everyone hostage”

Review by Eddie on 28/09/2015

As polarizing and up and down as it’s subject, Brett Morgen’s unique and labour intensive documentary about Nirvana front-man Kurt Cobain is an experience that will offer highs and lows but is nonetheless a must watch for any long term fan of the musician as documentaries don’t get much more intimate than this.

Not professing to know much if anything about the life and times of Cobain and his incredible rise to fame, riches and eventual demise, Montage of Heck will not exactly allow the uninitiated to get an exact feel for what drove Cobain and made him tick but it gives us a look into his life like never before with Morgen’s access to home video footage, diary entries and archival footage, allowing an impressively vast array of elements that combine together to try and pinpoint Cobain’s thoughts and mental processes.

Taking inspiration from the man himself, Morgen infuses his HBO backed documentary with an at times off putting erratic nature, the film flirting between visually strong animation, nightmare like diary writings and drawings flashing and coming to life in a psychedelic manner or intimate and previously private home video recordings and photos that offer the film’s most telling insights into who exactly Cobain was and what he was like at his most uninhabited, which is nice as Cobain’s notoriously cold and uninterested persona in the public makes it very easy for one to not feel care towards a man that seemed intent on walking a path of self-destruction.

Cobain’s unhelpful habits and characteristics are what holds Montage of Heck back (and a lack of affiliation of how Nirvana came together) and while we can all feel for someone suffering from inward personal issues, nothing is ever made overly apparent as to why Cobain set about a life that could only but lead to a lonely end, even after becoming a father and vowing to walk the line of sobriety and be the parent he so longed for when he was growing up. A tormented and deep thinking soul no doubt, but if there was ever a portrayal that showed Cobain up as not an overly affable human being, it’s Montage of Heck.

Cobain and Nirvana’s influence on pop-culture and music still lives large today and for die hard long term fans and those with keen interest in the life and times of musical superstars, Montage of Heck will be a must watch. For the rest of us more casual music listeners and movie fans however, Morgen’s effort is more a curiosity than and out and out must see due to its uneasy tone and tricky central figure.

3 uninterested interviews out of 5


8 responses to “Film Review – Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck (2015)

  1. What bothered me was that it seemed TOO personal and I didn’t really buy the shot of his journal, where the page read something like “read this while I’m gone. Figure me out” as an acceptable all access pass. I also didn’t connect with the idea that the documentary tore down the mythical Kurt and instead showed a side we’d never seen before. I can’t remember if that’s explicitly talked about in the doc or just through interviews witht he filmmaker. I didn’t see a “new” Kurt. I saw the one that appeared always depressed regardless of success, fame and wealth and eventually killed himself despite all the warning signs that everybody around him ignored or didn’t pick up on. I didn’t see this supposed “new” version of him. I am a big Nirvana fan so this was a must-see and the format was incredible to me, engaging but also made me quite uneasy and I was a little let down overall…I expected more, I hate to say.

    • Cheers for sharing your thoughts Susan. Interesting to hear from such a big fan. I really didn’t know much about either Kurt or the band so it was interesting yet I never really feel like it explained to much in the end sadly.

      • It didn’t explain much…it assumed the viewer knew the history around the band and it seemed like the interviews were pretty basic if not vague in the end. Very strange, maybe he was more of a mystery to even the people he knew than we all realized.

  2. Pingback: Film Review – Amy (2015) | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·

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