Kurt & Courtney

Two freaky conspiracy theories rear their heads in Nick Broomfield’s gripping investigative narrative, which tries to get to the bottom of the relationship between Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain and his wife, Courtney Love. Examining Cobain’s life up to his apparent suicide in 1994, Broomfield paints a horrifying picture of how devastating fame can be to a sensitive soul. But like other journalists who’ve tried to pierce the mystery surrounding the couple–journalists whose experiences he reports–Broomfield too comes up against a wall. Much of the story is about him losing funding for the project, being unable to get the rights to music for the sound track, and finding some of his subjects suddenly unwilling to talk–all, he maintains, the consequence of the Hole front woman’s efforts to control her image. He suggests that even if Cobain wasn’t murdered (at least one interviewee believes he was), Love may bear moral responsibility for his death. But while Broomfield attempts to unmask her as a hypocrite–he’s incensed when she takes the podium at an ACLU celebration of the First Amendment–he doesn’t seem to see any irony in his willingness to invade a living subject’s privacy. This patchwork portrait is hard to look away from partly because it exposes how one man rationalizes the dirty job of being a documentary filmmaker. Evanston, Pipers Alley.

–Lisa Alspector

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.