MARIANNE & LEONARD: WORDS OF LOVE – A Review by Cynthia Flores
This documentary is made and directed by renowned filmmaker Nick Broomfield. When he was a lost, twenty-year-old, young man looking for adventure visited the island of Hydra in Greece where he had the good fortune to meet Marianne, the great muse and lover of Leonard Cohen. It was the 60s and she also became muse and lover to Nick inspiring him to make his first film. I think that’s why this documentary Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love has such an intimate feeling to it.
Through the use of old footage and interviews with both Marianne Ihlen and Leonard Cohen, the beautiful, enduring love story between the legendary folk singer and his Norwegian muse unfolds before our very eyes.
The film begins on the Greek island of Hydra in 1960. There Leonard, then a struggling and unknown fiction writer, and Marianne, a single mother with a young son named Axel became part of a community of expat artists, writers, and musicians. Footage shot by Broomfield and legendary documentarian D.A. Pennebaker make for an insider’s view to an idyllic 1960’s bohemia. It was a time that left a lasting imprint on both Marianne and Leonard. Their fractured romance and lasting friendship would span another fifty years before their deaths just three months apart in 2016. In fact the note he sent to her on her deathbed is now the stuff of legends. “Well Marianne, it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine. And you know that I’ve always loved you for your beauty and your wisdom, but I don’t need to say anything more about that because you know all about that. But now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend, Endless love, see you down the road.”
If you’re a Leonard Cohen fan, then you are in for a treat. There is never before seen footage of live concerts and behind the scenes stuff. You’ll also enjoy the interviews with his bandmates such as Ron Cornelius. If you’re new to his music, then you’ll appreciate the history of the support and art that came from their union. It’s a lovingly complete film seemingly telling most sides of the affair.
My brother, and poet, Raul Flores Jr, who watched this with me and is a super fan, said it best. “In this film, Leonard remains our singing bird and Marianne his wire. In the end, it’s a love story – collateral damage and all.”
I give Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love an A+ rating. See it and enjoy all the bits I won’t spend time spoiling for you.
Directed by Nick Broomfield
Selig Rating A+
Running Time 1hr 42min
Limited Release July 19th Landmark’s Magnolia Theater
Starring: Leonard Cohen, Marianne Ihlen, Judy Collins, Ron Cornelius
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.