Nevermind this documentary.
Movie Review #1,013
1 hour, 30 minutes
Released June 11, 2015
Directed by Benjamin Statler
Film by Benjamin Statler
Writer: Donnie Eichar and Richard Middleton and Benjamin Statler
Starring Tyler Bryan, David Daskal, and Sarah Scott
If you’re good at your craft, then you can make a great many people want to listen to you, and you can convince many of them that you’re right. I wouldn’t say that Benjamin Statler is exactly good at his craft of documentary filmmaking. He’s not bad either, though. I’ll admit that he does one of those two things: he makes us want to listen to him. His documentary “Soaked in Bleach” is interesting. It just isn’t very convincing at all.
You can look at the title through two different lenses. It’s a direct reference to a line from the Nirvana song “Come as You Are”, but more than that, it intends to suggest that the cause of Kurt Cobain’s death isn’t as we might believe. “Soaked in Bleach” deeply analyzes the incident and many of the situations that surrounded it. Maybe his death was not a suicide, and maybe it was in fact a murder for which his widow, Courtney Love, is responsible. Those are the intentions of a documentary film. Indeed, half of it is comprised of interviews with Tom Grant that make him out to be a feeble conspiracy theorist, rather than the private investigator who was hired to investigate the murder. I suppose that’s technically what “Soaked in Bleach” is, but I have trouble referring to it as such. At least thirty percent of the movie depicts Sarah Scott and Daniel Roebuck reenacting the real-life conversations between Courtney Love and Private Investigator Tom Grant. The fact that Love’s depiction feels like a shallow, disgraceful caricature makes it unconvincing enough. It makes the film even more unconvincing that the dialogue spoken by actors in these scenes is sporadically overdubbed by tape recordings of the real conversations between these two back in 1994. Now I’m not the greatest documentarian, but I do know this is bad filmmaking. It’s akin to reading a term paper in which nine out of ten phrases is a quotation. We start to question the validity of everything that isn’t heard on a tape recording in this film. We also get the impression that Statler is just trying too hard to prove his point, or perhaps not in the right ways.