★★★★½ / 35mm /A deeply sad meditation on a young man’s depleted purpose to exist, enmeshed in drug addiction. Van Sant masterfully captures his receding grasp at life, effectively played by Michael Pitt, wandering the pristine beauty of his estate mumbling, digging up drugs, numbingly interacting with others, playing music, momentarily revealing the brilliance of what was until collapsing into an opioid haze. Genius.
Gus Van Sant said that this was informed by Chantal Akerman's Jeanne Dielman, but it lacks the formal rigor that made JD so compelling, and we never feel connected or involved. Jeanne's meatloaf looks a lot tastier than Blake's Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner. Not much meat here for Asia Argento fans, either.
Channeling the fixed shots of Chantal Akerman demonstrate a deliberate patience with composition and shot length, Van Sant's stylistic oeuvre moves into a different direction from Alan Clarke's 'Elephant' and the RPG-videogame influenced tracking shots in 'Elephant' and 'Gerry'. As a reflection on the last days of Kurt Cobain, it is hit-and-miss, but as a piece of cinematic poetry, it excels.