[Documentary] Kurt and Courtney (1998)


I have been on a Kurt Cobain film-watching kick lately. In case you missed my last two posts on Kurt, check them out:

[Documentary] Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck

[Film] Last Days

I remember when the documentary, Kurt & Courtney was released… It was March 1998, and I was living in North Bay, Ontario, attending college there. Down the street from where I lived was Video World – a movie rental place I frequented every weekend. It was a great place to rent all sorts of obscure films. For whatever reason, Kurt and Courtney caught my eye, but at the time I was completely burned out on Kurt Cobain’s story, and definitely on Courtney Love. I just didn’t care to watch this film.

Throw forward 15 years later, and my husband and I had a 30-day trial of Netflix. Being a doc junkie, I tried the best I could to get as many documentaries in as I possibly could before the trial ended. At this point, I had loosened my grip on that whole Kurt and Courtney thing and decided to tune in. I have since watched it again recently for this write-up.

Directed by and starring British journalist, Nick Broomfield, Kurt & Courtney follows Broomfield as he interviews people in Kurt Cobain’s life who knew him best, like his ex-girlfriend, Tracy, his best friend, Dylan, and his aunt, Mary, a musician herself, who fostered Kurt’s musical talent in a big way by allowing him to record using her equipment and musical instruments.

At the heart of the film, is the theory that Kurt did not commit suicide, but was murdered. There is the accusation that Courtney is partly responsible for Kurt’s death, either through collusion with someone who she paid to murder him, or as an accessory to his murder. This is brought forward by Courtney’s own father, Hank Harrison, who proudly vilifies his own daughter. He says he doesn’t know if Courtney is responsible, but believes Kurt was murdered, and suspects Courtney knows what happened. Another character, someone who went by the name El Duce, claims Courtney paid him $50,000 to have Kurt knocked off, but never went through with it. The film attempts to cast a shady light onto Courtney herself, who at this point in the timeline has totally changed her image from gutter punk to affected Hollywood starlet. In a brief guerrila-style interview in the film, Courtney is deflective, shifty and dismissive, refusing to answer any questions about anything (which was her right). Although the film brings up some interesting theories on Courtney, I am no further convinced that Kurt’s death wasn’t a suicide. But, then again, I think Broomfield had a hard time not being biased against Courtney. Evidence to this is demonstrated when Broomfield shared the challenges he faced in making Kurt & Courtney; you could definitely hear the disdain in his voice for Courtney from the get-go as she refused to license any Nirvana songs for his film. Further still, when she managed to sic some of her lawyers onto his film’s financial support system in an attempt to halt production, putting the whole documentary’s budget in jeopardy.

Broomfield produced an okay film here; I wouldn’t say Kurt & Courtney was the best film on Kurt, or the most interesting. The off-beat cast of characters in Kurt’s life moved the film along and brought some real humanity to such a tragic story.


Kurt and Courtney
Dir: Nick Broomfield


  1. I have not seen this but now I must.

    Now I’m of to listen to Courtney’s theme song.

    Papa Roach- Getting Away With Murder.

    P.S. I was verrrrry shocked that she was good in The People vs. Larry Flynt. She is still a giant douchbag though.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good on you for watching this! Admittedly, I am still burned out on the whole thing, so your write-up is much appreciated. Will we ever get to know what happened? Unlikely. And that’s sad. There are so many elements that are weird or don’t add up, maybe even the players in this thing themselves don’t even know who did what.

    Personally, I don’t really buy it as a suicide either, but have no clear map of what did happen. It’s just a gut feeling.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I just watched this. Better than I thought it would be. People in the movie seem truely afraid of her.
    Just that look she gives the camera when they ambush her.
    Also, shame on the ACLU for honouring her. Her up on stage saying every journalist has the right to free speech. Such a phoney.
    I was kind of shocked that in the middle of the film he started confronting his sources, especially her father. This helped sway it a bit towards real journalism for me rather than a one sided Courtney Love bash.
    I enjoyed it, and would have scored it a 4.

    P.S The film had El Duce and El Douche Eh ( Courtney)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I haven’t seen this in a long time, but I did enjoy it. Certainly cast sone doubt on the suicide thing (I know I mentioned before that I wasn’t convinced it was suicide). There’s actually another recent documentary with Tom Grant (the PI Courtney hired) that’s worth watching.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve always liked Nick Broomfield’s stuff but never bought the conclusion here.

    El Duce was in a band I’m embarrassed to like called the Mentors, I have their ‘You Axed For It!’ album. I’m not proud of that.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I guess I’m a little biased against this documentary because I’ve always been irritated by the foul play theories. Kurt and Courtney may have been rich and famous but they were also human beings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t heard a strong enough argument to believe foul play myself. And I have to think that the theories arise to vilify Courtney. I mean, I don’t like her, but murder?


      1. I think she is very unfairly vilified. I feel bad for all that she had to go through at such a young age with so many people watching to see if she was going through it in the right way.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Agreed. No one should have to deal with such a private thing in the public eye. It’s so easy to judge when you are a spectator on the outside. And Courtney was dealing with a lot more than her husband’s death.


  7. I have to be honest, I haven’t been arsed to watch it. I guess it’s possible it was a hit job but 22 years later I think we can let the ghosts lie. Biggy and Tupac is a different thing — no arrests made. With Kurt it’s not hard to buy the official story, the anomalies are…well many of them are very subjective. But again I haven’t been arsed to watch this.

    Liked by 1 person

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