'A schizophrenic and frenzied watch - relentless, intimate and explosive'
Andrew Trendell
11:02 16th April 2015

“I feel like people want me to die, it would be the classic rock and roll story” - Kurt Cobain. 

“I’m Kurt Cobain”, says a completely adorable blonde haired, blue-eyed toddler to a home movie camera. It becomes clear that the angelic façade masks a hyperactive boy desperate for love, “he just wanted to be the most loved, and that wasn’t ideal,” recalls his Stepmother. Shunted from one home to the next, a misunderstand Cobain sought place and reason in creativity; “he always had to do some kind of art...usually defacing something”.

“This is going to change your life, buckle up. You’re not ready for this,” Wendy, his mother, warned the first time she heard Nirvana’s breakthrough album, Nevermind. Mothers have an annoying habit of being right. At the height of the band’s success, Cobain abandoned a tour, taking six months off to sit in an apartment taking heroine and stroking a cat with Courtney Love. Heroine, extreme emotional sensitivity and intricately fragile humans don’t mix.

This aside, their relationship is visceral - blindingly obvious is their symbiotic infatuation, later extending to include their only child, Frances. She would become executive co-producer of the film, making for an ultimately faithful and feminine hand to guide the viewer behind a very privately guarded curtain. 

With 27 years condensed into 132 minutes, director Brett Morgen presents an ordered and systematic progression of self-destruction. Morgen treats us to never before seen footage (both on stage and at home), original artwork and sensitising animations to build a schizophrenic and frenzied feature. Feeling like an acid trip at times, this is an intimate and relentless watch.

The soundtrack, much of it Nirvana playing live, is interjected with orchestral and choral renditions of the likes of 'Smells Like Teen Spirit', bringing stratospheric ominousness and spine-chillingly moments of darkness between the light. Loaded with grit, like a classic grunge guitar riff, and just as explosive, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, does what it says on the tin, and then some.

But one question still remains; “Did Kurt find the underground, or did the underground find him?”

- Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck is in cinemas now

Review by Liz Hainsworth