Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.
HBO Films, Meno Film Company, Picturehouse, Pie Films Inc.. Screenplay by Gus Van Sant. Cinematography by Harris Savides. Produced by Dany Wolf. Music by Rodrigo Lopresti. Production Design by Tim Grimes. Costume Design by Michelle Matland. Film Editing by Gus Van Sant.
Although not specifically a biography of Kurt Cobain, this film makes so many obvious references to Nirvana’s late lead singer that a mere change of the character’s name only seems a fainthearted attempt to disguise its biographical nature (a point furthered proven by the legal disclaimer in the end credits which points out Cobain by name). Less a biopic and more of an emotionally probing hypothesis on the downside of fame, it stars Michael Pitt as a bleach-blond singer of a rock group who is hiding out with his band members in a giant mansion. Incoming phone calls are answered wordlessly, the other people in the house talk to Mormon visitors or have sex, and then without the slightest bit of warning, our protagonist commits suicide. The sound design, which won a technical prize at Cannes, and cinematography are astoundingly beautiful, but only a few images resonate while the rest is pretentious fluff. Gus Van Sant is determined to make an Antonioni out of himself, but he needs to find better material to work with or just go back to making grungy movies like My Own Private Idaho.
Cannes Film Festival: In Competition