Review: Kurt Cobain- About a Son

This 2007 AJ Schnack documentary based around interviews conducted between deceased Nirvana front man (and voice of a generation) Kurt Cobain and journalist/co-producer Michael Azerrad, is a must-see for any fan of music in the 1990s, and particularly the Seattle-founded Grunge movement. Fascinating stuff, especially for someone like me who was a definite fan, but never read any interviews, articles, or books on the guy, really. It gives you a pretty good picture of who Kurt was as a human being. After hearing about his childhood, his interest in music, and ascension to superstardom, and his inability to quite get his head around any of it (or to fit in anywhere in society), I feel like I got as complete a picture as one can ever get (though Courtney Love isn’t mentioned a whole lot, nor any specifics about his Nirvana band mates).

And that leads me to the film’s slight failing (aside from the limited amount of footage of the guy himself. Bizarre! We get a few badly-shot photos and lots of random shots of nondescript people, and shots of Seattle that might seem fascinating to people intimately familiar with Seattle, but I found it all rather perplexing), which is perhaps contradicting the very thing I have praised the film for. It will not answer any questions you might have as to why this talented young man took his own life at what seemed like his career peak. The interviews mostly took place about a year before his death, so you have to take that into account. The fact that these interviews are with a man (Cobain) whose drug dependency, denial of his said drug dependency, and other personal issues (emotional/psychological) make him not entirely reliable. That is, Kurt himself, at that period in time, was not the best source of reliable info about his own failings. I’m not saying he was a liar (though he was in denial about his drug use certainly), and the guy is still really interesting to listen to- and actually quite sympathetic- but, you’re not getting the whole story here, folks. You can’t. But like I said, you get as much of a true story as you possibly can, and I felt a lot closer to the man than I had previously. In fact, he seemed like a really sweet, ultra-sensitive, and caring guy, who just didn’t care enough about himself  to mend his psychological bumps and bruises before it was too late. Hmmm, that sounds a little like another departed music icon I could name. Perhaps that’s what ultimately did Kurt in, he just plain couldn’t do it anymore. He couldn’t live this existence anymore.

This film isn’t perfect, it isn’t complete, but it fascinated me from start to finish, and fans of the man definitely owe it to themselves to track this one down.

Rating: B+


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