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419. Marianne & Leonard: Words Of Love; movie review

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Title : 419. Marianne & Leonard: Words Of Love; movie review
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Cert 12A
102 mins
BBFC advice: Contains drug references, moderate sex references, infrequent strong language

I was reflecting on how I had missed Leonard Cohen. After all, his most successful music was released when I was in my 20s.
And then I realised that I was neither arty nor perpetually depressed. Nor am I a magnet for women.
Nope, as a football-loving, ambitious journalist who has stayed for more than 30 years with the girl I met when I was 22, I was unlikely to be able to touch first base with Cohen.
Yes, he was a highly acclaimed writer (so I might claim a pen in common) but family and stability were certainly not his bedrock.
And yet they might have been had he stuck with his girlfriend, Marianne Ihlen.
Nick Broomfield's documentary traces their love story which began on the idyllic Greek island of Hydra in 1960.
It was there that they were part of a bohemian community of artists, writers and musicians who were penniless and fed off the sun and free love.
At that time, Cohen was a poet and only by accident did he turn to singing, became world-renowned and even more immersed into drugs.
Broomfield is part of their story because, at the age of 20, he also met Marianne on Hydra and they became lovers.
Marianne introduced him to Cohen's music and also encouraged him to make his first film.
Consequently, this documentary is a labour of love on various levels, giving a first-hand insight into the 60s ethos of 'live and let live' and the startling rise of Cohen.
It is a love story, however, without offering a real understanding of the participants' motivation.
So, the question of why Marianne hung around Cohen when he went off with other women and why Cohen continued to think of her as the love of his life, is not clear.
Having appreciated Broomfield's other work, I couldn't help to wonder whether he was too close to the source material here.
Nevertheless, it is an interesting portrait of a world-famous singer, his muse and gives a great flavour of what it was like to be part of his scene in the 1960s and beyond.

Reasons to watch: Rekindling of the 60s
Reasons to avoid: A tad too introspective

Laughs: None
Jumps: None
Vomit: None
Nudity: Yes
Overall rating: 7/10

Did you know? Cohen's most famous song "Hallelujah" “Hallelujah” was first released on his album Various Positions in 1984. It has been performed by almost 200 artists in various languages

Final word. Nick Broomfield: "I think their passing woke me up to the fact that a very significant part of my life had moved on. I wanted to reconnect with that part of my life and reconnect with a lot of other people who were a part of it that I had lost touch with." Awards Daily

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