Overview: Brett Morgen takes us into the mind of Kurt Cobain in an early contender for the best movie of the year. HBO; 2015; TV-MA; 132 minutes.
In Bloom: Kurt Cobain was a poet, using the distortion of guitars and vocal chords to express himself to the world. Loud, but not abrasive, Cobain channeled pure emotion into his music. There will be those who can’t see beyond the perception that Kurt Cobain was constantly filled with depression and angst, lashing out at the world for his problems. Montage of Heck shatters that notion to reveal the headspace of grunge’s most well-known artist. The film doesn’t ask you to come to a decision on whether or not you like the artist and his work, it merely presents to you what was going on in his life.
Montage of Heck often feels like a montage through the haphazard lens of Kurt Cobain and those who were close to him, presenting the rock god as a human being; take the title of this documentary as literal as it comes. There are glimpses of the people surrounding his life. Everyone from Courtney Love to former band members take time to comment on their deceased loved one. They all acknowledge the imperfection in the man.
Though the documentary follows Cobain’s life from his youth to his final months before death, the documentation of his life isn’t confined to statements from people who knew him. Cobain’s creative nature is brought to the forefront through his drawings at various moments in the doc. Some of the images are pictures of lyrics, usually synced up to Nirvana’s most popular discography. The most striking imagery is straight from the mind of the doc’s subject, detailing how unhappy he was at times and why he always strove to create. The drawings are balanced with the shock and awe effect of Nirvana’s sounds, distorted images and guitars screeching through the speakers unleashing an unhinged heckery (heck = hell + fuck + ery).
There’s no real examination of why Kurt Cobain’s work with Nirvana has endured or what will make it last forever (which it will). We all know the story of Cobain’s death. Montage of Heck won’t give you any further information on the career of Cobain. It divulges the insecurities behind Kurt’s relationship with people (literally everyone) and where his residual rage resided. He wasn’t an angry person, just an expressive one.
Smells Like Cobain Spirit: As with the best work of Nirvana, Montage of Heck is absurd and bombastic. Plug in your surround sound, let the distortion take you, and enjoy your time with Kurt. I know I did.