Courtney Love may have killed her husband, Nirvana singer, songwriter and guitarist Kurt Cobain. But it wasn't with a shotgun blast to the head, as suggested by the parade of conspiracy theorists and misanthropes in Nick Broomfield's inadvertently hilarious documentary, "Kurt and Courtney."
Love, who successfully had Broomfield's film pulled from this year's Sundance Film Festival, is portrayed as so calculated and controlling a romantic partner that a soul as sensitive as Cobain had to off himself to escape her clutches.
Broomfield, who looked at serial killer Aileen Wuornos, Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in his earlier documentaries, here employs his usual techniques, creating a quirky movie that's a cross between a tongue-in-cheek road film and an investigative report.
Broomfield searches both L.A. and the drizzly Pacific Northwest for those who might shed light on the death of Cobain. And by focusing on Love, Broomfield finds his most curious ally in Hank Harrison, Love's father and a former manager for the Grateful Dead, who helps explain his daughter's dysfunction. Harrison describes Love's violation of his house rules -- no heroin, no prostitution, no drug buddies -- and directs a message to his daughter. "I'll keep on kicking your ass," he tells the camera, in front of the genuinely puzzled filmmaker.
Love comes off as so driven that she will go to any lengths, including physical assault, to keep her upward mobility in motion. In one instance, she delivered death threats to writer Victoria Clark, who, visibly shaken, replays for Broomfield the messages that Love has left on her answering machine.
During an aborted "Today" interview concerning her performance in "The People vs. Larry Flynt," Love refuses to acknowledge her past as a stripper and heroin addict. In another sequence, Broomfield attempts to question the singer at an ACLU banquet where she's been invited to speak on freedom of the press. He's quickly dragged off stage.
Disingenuously discounting the conspiracy theories, Broomfield nonetheless raises several questions about Cobain's death. Why weren't there fingerprints on the shotgun? Was there really so much heroin in his blood that he couldn't have lifted the gun? Why has Love pushed to prevent this film from being released?
Yet Broomfield doesn't seem to take any of this seriously. And neither should we.