'Kurt & Courtney': No love lost Movie review

September 11, 1998|By Ann Hornaday | Ann Hornaday,SUN FILM CRITIC

The engine that drives "Kurt & Courtney," the new documentary by Nick Broomfield, is the Internet-floated rumor that Kurt Cobain, the lead singer for the influential alternative rock band Nirvana, did not commit suicide in Seattle in 1994 but was murdered by his wife, Courtney Love.

Maybe it's because its engine is so compromised -- so encrusted with conjecture, so clogged with hearsay and bad faith -- that "Kurt & Courtney" sputters and eventually konks out so painfully. Broomfield concludes that there is no basis for the rumor, but only after taking viewers through a torturous series of interviews with people in varying degrees of greed- or drug-induced stupor. If a journalist can be judged by the company he keeps, Broomfield is the ultimate unreliable narrator.

"Kurt & Courtney" attained the status of urban legend earlier this year when Love blocked the use of her late husband's songs in the film and blocked its screening at the Sundance Film Festival. Broomfield, ever the canny self-marketer, seized on the opportunity to use Love's legal actions as a cover for his own dirty little secret: He doesn't have a film.

But not for lack of strenuous bottom-feeding.

Only after giving precious screen time to heroin addicts, disgruntled ex-lovers, Love's fame-hungry father, an addled former nanny, two "stalkerazzi" and a white-trash poseur known as El Duce -- who will whack anyone for $50,000 and say anything for a beer -- does Broomfield finally conclude that Courtney didn't kill Kurt.

Clearly disconsolate, the filmmaker then zeros in on Love's feuds with the press. Finally he corners Love at an ACLU dinner, then storms the stage to confront the audience with their hypocrisy in inviting Love to be a spokeswoman for free speech.

The only thing more hypocritical than Courtney Love as an ACLU spokeswoman is Nick Broomfield -- who abuses the First Amendment as much as anyone with this film -- as its watchdog.

This is a dirty piece of work, and everyone it touches -- especially audiences -- deserved better.

"Kurt & Courtney"

Directed by Nick Broomfield

Rated Unrated

Running time 95 minutes

Released by Roxie Releasing

Sun score no stars

Pub Date: 9/11/98

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