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Kurt & Courtney Review

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Examining the suicide of Kurt Cobain, documentarian Nick Broomfield looks into the possibility of the conspiracy theory that Cobain's wife Courtney Love paid for his murder.

★★★★

Like all good whodunnits, it starts with a body and works backwards. But Kurt And Courtney is a documentary - he being Kurt Cobain, the Nirvana singer who apparently shot himself on April 5, 1994; she being Courtney Love, who married Kurt in 1992 and is alleged by extremist internet conspiracy theorists to have paid for his murder. Celebrated British documentary maker Broomfield herein plays detective, trailing the story from Kurt's birthplace to the LA studio where Courtney's band Hole are now rehearsing - this sometimes dog-eared, always dogged film is the result.

From the outset, the laconic Broomfield confesses he knows little and cares less about the nasty rock music - it's the people he's fascinated by. Was it the burden of being "spokesperson for a generation" that killed Kurt? Was Courtney using him to attain her own celebrity? Could he have operated a gun with all that heroin in his veins? Broomfield's journey enthrals by its very side-stepping of famous friends and familiar faces: rather, he uncovers a ghoulish parade of smack-addled deadbeats in Seattle basements (Kurt's friend Dylan Carlson, for whom whole sentences are a foreign country; the now dead nutter El Duce, who claims to have been offered $50,000 to kill Kurt; a spaced-out nanny; the ex- to whom Kurt gave a painting of "diseased vaginas"). It really is like gawping at a car crash.

As Courtney's "people" close in, Broomfield's funding is cut off, access is denied and we are left with Kurt's Aunt Mary playing a Christian anti-drugs song to schoolchildren. Haunting, bleak, tragic, occasionally unintentionally funny, Kurt And Courtney makes a mockery of TV documentaries where slick editing creates only artifice.

Haunting, bleak, tragic, occasionally unintentionally funny, Kurt And Courtney makes a mockery of TV documentaries where slick editing creates only artifice.