Writer-director Gus Van Sant takes us—or, more precisely, drags us—through the death spiral of a drugged-out rock star (Michael Pitt) on his run-down forest estate. A closing title admits that the movie is inspired in part by the death of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain but asserts that the story and characters are fictional. Yet, thoughts of Cobain permeate our viewing experience and make us more interested than we would be otherwise. Performances have a grungy documentary realism, but Van Sant falls into his own trap: In showing the foggy, aimless lives of his characters, he’s made a foggy, aimless film. Individual scenes (several of them repeated apparently at random) are stronger than the film as a whole—especially a final, poetic image of the rocker’s spirit ascending from his ravaged corpse.