Sunday, April 5, 2009

Kurt & Courtney: A Film By Nick Broomfield

This 1998 documentary by director Nick Broomfield is an attempt to look at the controversial and questionable events that led to the death of Kurt Cobain. There are still many people who believe that Kurt Cobain did not commit suicide on April 5, 1994; they believe he was murdered. Broomfield does his best to figure out whether there is any truth to the conspiracy theory.

Hounded by Courtney Love and her legal camp the entire time he was making this film, Broomfield mentions that the film was on shaky ground with financial backing from the beginning. He actually films the phone call when the partners of MTV take away funding and back out of the deal. He mentions that Courtney Love threatened legal action with several people and that she never gives permission to use any of Kurt’s music.

The documentary involves interviews with some interesting, yet shady, characters. There is a woman who claims to have been good friends with Kurt and Courtney, yet she never materializes proof. There is a man who claims to have been offered $50,000 by Courtney Love to murder Kurt Cobain, yet he couldn’t say that it was to be a staged suicide until Broomfield led him down that path. He died during the making of the documentary in a mysterious way, struck by a train and killed instantly.

Dylan Carson, Kurt Cobain’s closest friend during his later years in life, is also interviewed for this film. During the entire interview he is near incoherent and apparently high. He mumbles, speaks too softly, and it is hard to determine what he is saying. Most of what he has to say isn’t worth hearing anyway, so nothing is missed.

Broomfield’s interviewing skills are questionable; his ability is average at best. He constantly cuts people off, talks over them, and does not allow them to finish their statements. At one point, one of his interview subjects claims to know who killed Kurt Cobain. Broomfield completely ignores him and moves onto his next question. Either Nick did not hear him, or did not care at all about whom this man thought killed Kurt Cobain.

There is an interesting interview with Courtney Love’s father who is obviously a publicity hound. He is screaming from the rooftops about the conspiracy theory and has even written two books about it. He makes sure that his latest book gets plenty of camera time during his interview. The man has an estranged relationship with his daughter and has nothing of value to add at all, but he is great for comic relief. If Broomfield intended to keep this man’s footage in the film strictly for that purpose, then he is a filmmaking genius.

The best parts of Kurt & Courtney are the beginning and the end. The film opens with an interview of the woman that Kurt lived with before he met Courtney. She has a few of Kurt’s paintings from their time together, and it is obvious that he was a talented artist as well as a talented musician. Seeing these treasures is worth the price of renting the film. Seeing his former girlfriend is a treat as well. She is a huge contrast from Courtney Love.

The ending is the best part of the film. Nick Broomfield, who had been chasing down Love during the entire documentary, finally got his chance to face her. He didn’t pull any punches and even challenged her onstage during her speech to the ACLU. That ultimately got him tossed from the awards show and put him on Courtney’s legal radar map.

Kurt & Courtney is a decent documentary made by an average director. Because the subject matter is so interesting, it is easy to get around Broomfield’s shoddy work. The film does raise some questions about Kurt’s death and does lead one to think that maybe, just maybe, it is possible that Kurt Cobain did not commit suicide. Although Broomfield completely disregards this theory by the end of the film, it does allow the viewer to think for themselves and draw their own conclusions. Was Kurt murdered? This is a mystery that may never be solved.

Ryo’s Rating: C+
For more information regarding the mystery surrounding Kurt death, visit:

Comments are open. Feel free to post some.

No comments: