Director: Brett Morgen
Running Time: 132 mins
UK Certificate: 15
Montage of Heck tells the Kurt Cobain story in a deeply personal way I wasn’t totally prepared for. I was and still am a huge Nirvana fan, and would rather have seen the complete story of the band itself (with interviews with forgotten members etc), but Morgen has undoubtedly carved a fascinating portrait of the intense and troubled frontman. Animation of Kurt’s old notebooks & paintings, and rotoscoped recreations of his formative years, are masterfully interwoven with old footage to give a patchwork impression of Kurt’s very fertile mind and troubled upbringing.
The second act of the films moves into the roller-coaster era of the bands success where familiar gig and interview footage again tells the story minus any narration other than that of Cobain himself and those interviewed. Krist Novoselic has a few interesting insights and he comes across very well. Sadly there was no interviews with Dave Grohl or Bleach drummer Chad Channing, despite plenty of them both in the live gig footage.
Obviously, the third act gets progressively darker as Cobain & Love become a dysfunctional celebrity couple and Kurt begins to retract from the mammoth success of Nirvana’s Nevermind album. Ample footage of their Sid & Nancy esque heroin fueled antics did little for me, especially when their baby enters the picture amidst the narcotic chaos. For me it’s hard to empathize with a person who now openly admits to having taken heroin during her pregnancy.
Love also seems slightly sketchy when discussing an alleged affair she denies having, which may or may not have been the catalyst for Kurt’s first suicide attempt. This said, below the barrier she has built-up she undoubtedly still misses her soul-mate and definitely gets my sympathy in that respect. I’ll always take my hat off to her for Hole’s classic ‘Live Through This’ album too.
The most moving moment in the film for me is a clip of Nirvana performing an acoustic version of All Apologies which soundtracks some of his folks old super-8 footage of a bright eyed fun loving toddler Kurt happily joking around at home. For me it would have made for a more poignant ending to the film than the following few minutes.
Extras are thin on the ground, with an unabridged interview with Don Cobain and also Morgen, but the film rolls in at a weighty 2 hours ten minutes which feels formidable. For me Morgen’s take on the Cobain story is as intense and uncompromising as the music of Nirvana and a fitting warts & all tribute.