Generally favorable reviews - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 17
  2. Negative: 1 out of 17
  1. Reviewed by: Mark Bell
    Everyone involved with the film brings their top talents to the fore, and the result is a touching, heartbreaking and an ultimately honest personal experience.
  2. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Filmmaker AJ Schnack's hauntingly beautiful film is a bold and successful attempt to recover the human being who disappeared under the heavy mantle of "face and voice of a lost generation," and whose life has been increasingly overshadowed by his sensational early death in 1994.
  3. Even without the oral history, this trippy exploration of Cobain's earthy habitations would be worth seeing as a "Koyaanisqatsi" for the Puget Sound area.
  4. 80
    No single film or book can dispel the cloud of enigma surrounding Kurt Cobain, but simply sitting in the dark and hearing him talk to you for 90 minutes, while the dreary gray-green beauty of his home state moves through your eyeballs and into your brain, goes a pretty long way.
  5. Reviewed by: Camille Dodero
    About a Son is essentially a dead rock star talking about his life for an hour and a half, and—here, jacket-blurbers!—it's deeply moving.
  6. 80
    The result is a film exponentially more vivid and absorbing than the garden-variety rock-doc or biopic. "About a Son" is a must for anyone who still loves Cobain, or still has hope for cinematic portraiture.
  7. 75
    Be advised that this is no ordinary music doc. There are no talking heads and no performance footage of Nirvana. In fact, there's no Nirvana music at all. Instead, Schnack gives us other artists' music that had an effect on the troubled rocker.
  8. It's a study in human behavior, describing how a self-confessed "emotional wreck," through accident and ambition, talent and temperament, became a star.
  9. 75
    A lovely piece of filmmaking, a gripping, minimalist marriage of sound and image.
  10. 75
    About A Son may not let in anybody who doesn't already have one foot in Nirvana's doorway, but those people are invited in fully, to experience the contradictions and preoccupations of a man whose music defined his era.
  11. A true gift to fans of this important musician.
  12. 70
    There's nothing particularly revelatory about the interviews recorded over a two-month span, but there's an intimate quality that gives the impression you're listening to a private conversation, which, in a sense, you are.
  13. Reviewed by: Dennis Harvey
    Some fans will find the approach (which avoids Nirvana music and perf footage) too arty and indirect; but others will welcome the specialized theatrical release and the subsequent DVD.
  14. Near the end, we hear Cobain reveal his disdain for adults who “can’t even pretend, or at least have enough courtesy for their children, to talk to one another civilly.” A painful and unexpected moment.
  15. 50
    Only loosely connected to the story, the visuals quickly grow monotonous, and as the chronicle arrives at Cobain's late years of curdled fame and fortune, his bitterness and cynicism make even the narration hard to take.
  16. It’s hard to know who the audience might be for the documentary oddity Kurt Cobain About a Son, but I bet its subject, the guy who’s still being called on to entertain us even after his death, would have hated it.
  17. Reviewed by: Joel Selvin
    Never penetrates Cobain's circumstances or character.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 12 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 4
  2. Negative: 0 out of 4
  1. JayH.
    Feb 6, 2008
    A good documentary is one that will engross you in the subject, whether you have an interest in it or not. On this level, About a Son fails. I didn't care about Kurt Cobain before watching, during it, or after it. It is painfully overlong. This is strictly for fans of Cobain. Full Review »
  2. PaulK.
    Nov 7, 2007
    If you're a fan, this is definitely worth checking out. I thought the re-created images to go along w/ the phone taped interviews worked in some parts but not others. I liked the live photos of nirvana at the end. I wish there would have been more real documentation to accompany Kurt's words. As it stands, it's a detached and odd feeling documentary. Appropriate enough, given the subject. Full Review »
  3. Puja
    Oct 9, 2007
    As a mile-high Nirvana fan, I was always eager to learn more about not only Kurt but the band itself. This documentary provided some closure for me in terms of Kurt's death, which in turn was the death of Nirvana. It was painful to remember that there would be no more music from such a great band who expressed the unexplainable angst of my generation. However i feel that the documentary, now over 10 years after his death, help the now elder generation come into terms with what happened though it still doesn't explain Kurt's decision. But that's ok, we were never intended to know about it and he never wanted anyone to know much about his personal life. He was just a normal kid with normal problems - like one of us. It was beautiful to hear his voice and feel his pain that he knows we all share. Full Review »