We all know how the story ends, and given that, I should have been more prepared for how fucking gloomy this shit is.
Of course it’s gloomy. If you can recall the lyrics of any one of Nirvana’s songs, literally pick any one at random, and I guarantee you, it ain’t happy. The inside of Kurt Cobain’s head was not all picnics and pantaloons. He was raw pain at times, and the brilliance of this documentary is sheer access to pretty rare footage – home videos, private diaries and notebooks, childhood photos. It doesn’t have the guts to stab at answers but it does ask a lot of questions and highlight a lot of recurrent themes – the search for meaning, wanting to belong, extreme sensitivity to rejection and humiliation. Not great character traits for someone who would achieve absurd stardom.
But there’s also the ease he seems to feel with is daughter, and even Courtney, and his transcendent love of playing music live. This last seems to have come at a great cost to him personally, and his suicide begins to feel inevitable.
Interviews with his family members, former band mate, and even Courtney, help to flesh out the story. Kurt himself addresses us through notebooks and old videos. Notably absent: Frances Bean, and Dave Grohl.
The documentary sort of blurs between his creative genius and his personal pain, which I suppose is a pretty accurate representation of what Nirvana was at the time. Director Brett Morgen uses some interesting techniques to bring Cobain back to life for a couple of hours. It made me think of who Kurt would be today if he was still here. Oh the melancholy.