Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love

97 minutes
Leonard Cohen, Nick Broomfield

Marianne & Leonard: An Emotionally Complex Story of a Poet and His Muse

Nick Broomfield’s remarkable documentary explores the love between Leonard Cohen and Marianne Ihlen.

When you go to see a documentary film by Nick Broomfield, you are likely to see Nick Broomfield himself. His mode of inquiry, whether he’s examining murderers, politicians or rock stars (subjects of his previous pictures include Aileen Wuornos, Sarah Palin, Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain), always insists on exposing the inquiry itself. And like Michael Moore, Broomfield has the personality to make his onscreen presence interesting even if you’re not keen on meta-documentary.
His new picture is about the enduring love between the Canadian singer-songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen and Marianne Ihlen, the Norwegian woman he met on the Greek island of Hydra in the early 1960s. It’s a story that is at once simple and threaded with startling complexities. Its emotional entanglements and narrative twists can seem the stuff of fiction. They shed sometimes discomfiting light on the expansions and excesses of the 1960s and ’70s counterculture that its main players helped to define.