Kurt & Courtney (dir. Nick Broomfield)
Surrounded by controversy, pulled from the Sundance Film Festival, threatened with legal action by Courtney Love, only being shown in select theaters across the country; quite a lot of hype!
Hold on, before we begin this review, let’s find out where we think this movie is coming from by taking a little quiz.
This film is about:
A) Kurt Cobain’s childhood
B) The relationship between Kurt and his wife Courtney Love
C) Courtney’s "flamboyant" behavior
D) The murder theories surrounding Kurt’s death
E) The struggle to make this film
F) All of the above
G) None of the above
Coming into the theater, I would have picked D, as this is a story that deserves a big investigation by a journalist who won’t pull any punches and show both sides of the story. But woah ho ho! Don’t look now but it was a trick question! The answer is both F or G!
Kurt & Courtney is a muddled, long-winded, poorly made excuse for a documentary. At its core are a few good ideasCourtney Love is a sociopathic bitch and Kurt Kobain’s death has been the subject of conspiracy theories. Both of these areas are rich in possibility and either of them would have made great movies on their own. Even when in the same film, they should have been able to compliment one another. However, director Nick Broomfield fails to bring anything to fruition.
Instead, Broomfield fails to grasp what story he’s really trying to explore. The film meanders from backstory of who Kurt Kobain was to what a psycho hose beast Courtney is to sketchy suggestions of Kurt being murdered to the kind of relationship Kurt and Courtney had to Broomfield losing his financing for the film. I can certainly understand why Broomfield’s funding was cut and I don’t care if Courtney Love had anything to do with it or nothe doesn’t seem to have the first clue about making a documentary film!
The conspiracy theories about Kurt’s "murder" are merely hinted at and never spelled out in any sort of cognitive manner. Instead, we learn two things: the shotgun and shells the Kurt allegedly used lacked any fingerprints and Kurt had an over-dose level of heroin in his systeman amount that may have prevented him from even operating a shotgun. Broomfield interviews an "expert" to refute the heroin level theory but the lack of fingerprints is left unexplored. Certainly there is more "supporting evidence" that investigator Tom Grant has uncovered but Broomfield doesn’t bother with it which really begs the question of what the central theme of this film is.
Perhaps this film is really about Courtney and her attempts to block it being made. What this boils down to, really, is all hearsay. Constantly we hear Broomfield in voice-over telling us that what we are seeing was going to have Nirvana music playing over it but he couldn’t get the rights to it. After a while it just sounded like he was whining about it. Perhaps a letter or voice-message from Courtney or her lawyers might have made it more believable.
The audience is made privy to a few choice threatening answering machine messages from Courtney to various writers and there is even a brief glimpse of a letter which I guess was written to Vanity Fair by Courtney. These are very interesting, sure, and only aid in making me know that Courtney is a schitzo, however, I came into this movie with a lot of that informationBroomfield really doesn’t prove on his own that Courtney is a fame whore who will fuck over anyone and say anything to further her own agenda.
The most interesting interview which begins to support the above is with one of Courtney’s ex-boyfriends, Rozz Rezabek, who reads from some of her old journals where she would plan out her lifefrom getting into music to becoming a movie star. In one note, she even writes that she will befriend Michael Stipewhich she has subsequently done! You’ve got to hand it to the manipulative bitchshe sets goals and attains them!
However, Courtney’s ex-boyfriend is a little over-enthusiastic and it tends to detract from his credibility. This is even more of a problem with all of the other people Broomfield interviews for his film. Nutcases (El Ducethe West Coast G. G. Allin, Hank HarrisonCourtney’s father) and drugged out losers (Dylan Carsonan acne riddled mumblemouth, Amya scenester with drawn-in eyebrows and faux vocal affect) don’t necessarily make good eyewitnesses! The cast of characters seem like they’d be too outrageous to even make it into This Is Spinal Tap.
Watching this crudely crafted film (half of the movie seemed to be shot from the inside of a moving car while Broomfield voice-overed) it really wasn’t any wonder why it didn’t show at Sundance. Forget the legal issuesthe thing just wasn’t good enough! I’m amazed the folks at Slamdance even showed it there, as it’s one of the lowest "quality" documentaries I’ve ever seen.