Nick Broomfield is a dying breed: a journalist who knows that the only way to burrow through the blubber and into the heart of a big story is to get in there and get involved; to roll with the tantrums and expect the occasional door, or even fist, to be slammed in your face.
He enters an investigation with an armful of research but little sense of direction. In his 1995 TV film, Heidi Fleiss: Hollywood Madam, Broomfield tried to get things moving by picking up prostitutes on Sunset Boulevard and then secretly filming them as they fluff up the motel-room pillows (""I'm doing a film about Heidi Fleiss. Have you heard of her?""/" "What... are you on about?"").
Here, he initially heads for Seattle, and Cobain's friends and family. He charms an affable aunt, who plays a tape of the Nirvana frontman as an infant, performing an eerily raucous version of the The Monkees theme-tune, and chats to ex-girlfriend Tracy Miranda, who illuminates Broomfield on the singer's obsession with the birth process.
The focus shifts when, following legal pressure from Love's record company and a series of unreliable interrogations of anaesthetised dead-weights and fame-frantic liggers, Broomfield ditches the chin-stroking intrigue. Instead he takes a more precise and satisfying aim at issues of censorship and press freedom, setting up a breathtaking confrontational ending which reveals Cobain's widow to be a violent, volatile, manipulative hypocrite.
Kurt&Courtney is hardly a thrilling, big-screen visual blow-out (Broomfield is a bit too fond of in-car shots of roadside America), but, Nirvana fan or not, you won't find a more nourishing chunk of brain-food this silly season.
Sharp, daring, revealing and often splutteringly funny. Broomfield's unflappable resolve and fully-functioning bullshit detector pulls up an endlessly thrilling new spin on an already tabloid-savaged topic.
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