Cobain Documentary 'Brilliant,' 'Uncomfortable'

Director Brett Morgen probes the man behind the myth
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 24, 2015 12:07 PM CDT

It's pretty much unanimous: Critics are in love with Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the documentary produced by Cobain's daughter, which hits theaters today before premiering on HBO next month. With interviews from his parents, Courtney Love, and more, it offers an intimate look at the star who committed suicide at 27. Here's what critics are saying:

  • Director Brett Morgen "gives us the man instead of the myth" in a documentary that makes "Cobain's story feel not only comprehensive and fresh but revelatory," Chris Nashawaty writes at Entertainment Weekly. Some parts, including a home video of Cobain nodding off on drugs, are "uncomfortable," but "Morgen isn't interested in hagiography. He wants to show us the real Kurt Cobain, warts and all." The result is, in a word, "brilliant."
  • "The movie creates a portrait of Cobain that’s more intimate, and more disturbing, than any that fans have witnessed before," writes Jim Farber at the New York Daily News. It "downplays commentary to stress raw evidence drawn from Cobain's deep archives." Viewers will see "a strung-out Cobain struggling to hold his infant daughter," Farber writes, and hear him speak about a high school suicide attempt. The film as a whole leaves "questions, frustrations, and a chill."

  • "Edited from thousands of photographs, home movies, and audio clips" the "source materials alone [make] this film a must-see for any hard-core Nirvana fan," Charles R. Cross writes at the Seattle Times. The highlights come in "segments where noirish animations dramatize stories Cobain himself narrates in audio." Though the "many powerful images on screen ... begin to overwhelm the viewer," most will be left "cheering."
  • Mike Hale describes the film as a "seamless mystery ride" that "concentrates on Cobain the writer, draftsman, and personality." Morgen "finds abundant clues and premonitions in Cobain’s writings" to suggest that "insecurity and shame" played a role in his suicide, though the truth remains elusive, Hale writes at the New York Times. His favorite part? Seeing an "angelic" Cobain as a child in the first half of the two-hour-plus film.
Frances Bean Cobain recently spoke publicly about her dad. (More Kurt Cobain stories.)

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