"Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love" is an American mostly English-language documentary from 2019 and in the title you can already read that the focus here is mostly on Canadian singer Leonard Cohen. But first things first: The director is London-born Nick Broomfield and looking at his body of work and how it was appreciated here on imdb, it seems to me that well I do not want to say there is a circle of haters, but definitely a large group of people, who apparently are not too fond of his style and approach to filmmaking. i do not exactly know what their problem is. Or if I even second this idea because I just haven't seen enough from him. But I heard about the Whitney Houston documentary from not too long ago for sure. I think Broomfield has a tendency to be a part of his films more than other documentary filmmakers, sometimes only as narrator, sometimes even in front of the camera. Anyway, here we also hear him partially narrate and his voice has great recognition value and sticks out and you know it is him. Which may not be too perfect for the subject if it takes attention away there, but it is also not a bad voice by any means, so for me it wasn't a problem here, especially because we also have many other narrators. And this also includes audio recordings from the two in the title. Or just people who had a (close) connection to either Leonard or Marianne. Now lets focus on the contents of the film. First, however, I want to say a few words about myself. I really adore Leonard Cohen's music and he is one of my top3 favorite musicians ever. Saw him live several times here in Berlin and I am so happy I got the chance to do so. So I was of course very curious about these approximately 100 minutes. And I would say they got better and better the longer they go. The first half/hour is okay, nothing too outstanding, but interesting nonetheless and easy to appreciate for a Cohen fan like myself. I also liked that I still learned many new things about him in here. For example I had no idea drugs (LSD) were such a common occurence for him that he permanently took them. Or also how much of a womanizer he was as we find out through the anecdote how the next woman was already waiting when one left his company. And a lot more than was new to me despite how much I know about him. For example the video where he is about to discontinue the concert because he wasn't feeling it and tells the audience I have seen on Youtube before too, but I did not know that he shaved his beard during the break he took before continuing. Now that was extraordinary. So much for Leonard right now. A few words on Marianne of course too. You hopefully know the song he recorded for her and if not, then you definitely should check it out. We find out a lot about the relationship between the two and how she impacted Cohen's life during his days on Hydra mostly. We hear about how she is joking that the song is not about her or we also hear how Hydra can be a really difficult place for many, which for example also includes her son who led a very troubling life altogether or this family of artists who all died quickly after leaving Hydra. Kinda shocking stuff. So the film is not only about the relationship between the two in the title, but all the rest we find out also has directly to do with them really. So yeah at the end it is just super touching and personal for me and my eyes got wet pretty quickly when I heard him say at the microphone in London that he has not been there for a while. Or also when we find out how Marianne got tickets in the front row for Leonard's concert in Oslo. Or of course everything really about the letter. I will definitely not go into detail here because I really don't want to spoiler anything, but I found it incredibly moving and I also like how they lead us there by mentioning said letter at the very beginning of the documentary, so eventually the circle closes here. It is very tough for me to find anything I did not like about the film as I think it was competently executed from beginning to end and is really informative and also delivers in terms of heart how I explained earlier. I have to dig deep. Maybe one thing is how Suzanne is included, which I found a bit disrespectful the way they describe her, but maybe that is just me. I mean Leonard still has love for his agent who cost him millions of dollars, so I am sure he would not be too happy about the depreciatory way how we find out about Suzanne. Or actually find out almost nothing about her. This could have been handled better. Or just exclude her completely, but in the end, she is vaguely in the same spot like Marianne Ihlen, namely a woman who had a big enough impact on Cohen's life to write a song about her. Anyway, back to the agent I just mentioned. Even with what she did, I guess Leonard Cohen fans can be happy she lost him all that money because otherwise he never would have gone on tour again and it seemed as if he really liked it. I know he made me happy and otherwise I never would have seen him live, which would have been super sad for me. Oh yeah, another aspect: The monastery life for Cohen is also something I was not aware of. Or how really Leonard died only months after Marianne. May they rest in peace both of them and their legacy will be with me forever. Thank you for the music. A top movie for me, so I give it a perfect rating, but also for non-Cohen fans it is a good watch I think. Maybe the great use of music that still gets me goosebumps will turn them into fans, so maybe from a really neutral perspective 4 stars out of 5 is accurate. In any case, a huge recommendation from me here. Thanks for making this movie Mr. Broomfield and getting Mr. Cohen back into all our lives. His art makes me happy.
Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love
Documentary / Music
Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love
Documentary / Music
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An in-depth look at the relationship between the late musician Leonard Cohen and his Norwegian muse Marianne Ihlen.
November 2, 2021