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Bloor Cinema Release: Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck

May 15, 2015

By John Corrado

★★★½ (out of 4)

Montage of Heck PosterAssembled from old home movies, interviews with his family and friends, and even animated segments taken right from his journal entries, the electric Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck offers the definitive portrait of this tortured artist, and a gripping exploration of drug addiction and untreated mental illness.

After two sold out shows at Hot Docs, the film opens at the Bloor Cinema this weekend, and it’s highly recommended viewing for fans.  Tickets and showtimes can be found right here.

Following the Nirvana bandleader from his troubled childhood, to his mainstream success with the release of Nevermind, and tumultuous marriage to Courtney Love, director Brett Morgan employs brilliant editing to stitch together moments from Kurt Cobain’s tragically short life into a compelling and emotionally affective narrative.

What makes this such a laudable achievement is the unprecedented access that they have gained, tapping into his personal archives and home recordings, all with the blessing and permission of his surviving relatives.  Diving headlong into the tortured genius mystique of Kurt Cobain, Montage of Heck uses his own voiceovers and drawings to explore how he was never really able to move past the pain of childhood rejection or the rebellion of his teenage years, leaving him deathly afraid of being humiliated and channelling all of this hurt into blistering music that continues to resonate just as deeply.

The film is invaluable for the insider access we are given, through incredibly candid home videos that have never been released publicly before.  This includes unsettling and morbidly compelling footage of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love literally stoned out of their minds with their newborn daughter Frances Bean Cobain, serenading her with a haunting rendition of “Amazing Grace” in one of the film’s strangest and most revealing sequences.  These are all pieces of the puzzle that led to his tragic suicide, a shocking end which immortalized him as part of the mysterious “27 Club,” and was perhaps foretold all along through his poetic and deeply self reflective lyrics.

The film does run a little long at 132 minutes, and at times the experience can be overwhelming.  But with the abundance of invaluable footage on display, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck gives us a thrilling and never before seen glimpse inside his unceasing mind, that is equal parts disturbing and fascinating.  And the soundtrack rocks hard, especially when played super loud in a theatre.

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