Review: MARIANNE & LEONARD: WORDS OF LOVE Isn’t As Deep As You Would Like

FIRST IMPRESSION

Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love looks great — it just fails to find what is truly interesting about the story.
Directing
Entertainment Value
Technical Merit

Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love is a new documentary directed by Nick Broomfield (Whitney: Can I Be Me) that offers a unique snapshot of the life and career of famous poet and musician Leonard Cohen. The film specifically focuses on the relationship that Cohen had with his Norwegian muse Marianne Ihlen.

This story is definitely very intriguing, especially if you admire the artistic process. Rather than being a biographical movie about Cohen or even a straightforward presentation of the events as they occurred, Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love is something more poetic — a rumination on what it means to be an artist.

Unfortunately, despite the film’s success as a love letter to the artistic process, it doesn’t quite work as a satisfying whole. Much of the movie almost feels incomplete, as if Broomfield has presented his thesis without sufficient evidence to back it up. Over the course of the film, you learn very little about Cohen or his particular process, with the focus instead on why having a muse is important.

Since the movie feels so distant from its subjects, it is unfortunately unable to sustain the audience’s interest for the entirety of the runtime. Granted, the film is just over an hour and a half long, so it doesn’t keep you bored for very long, but once you figure out in the first twenty or so minutes that the movie isn’t going to offer anything deep or insightful, it isn’t hard to check out.

marianne and leonard words of love cohen
A Photo of Leonard Cohen from the film MARIANNE & LEONARD: WORDS OF LOVE. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Roadside Attractions.

That isn’t to say that the film is pointless — Broomfield has something that he wants to get across — it just comes across early on and is disappointingly superficial. The reason why the movie is so frustrating is that the beginning shows so much potential and by the end, it is just another film about how art is affected by love. We’ve seen that story a million times already.

To tell the story, Broomfield uses archive footage set to voiceover narration pulled from interviews and readings of letters written by Cohen. Although this is a somewhat standard documentary technique, the overwhelming dominance of talking head interviews in recent movies makes Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love stand out, as it shows that Broomfield wants the story to speak for itself.

In terms of execution, Broomfield has made one of the most beautiful documentaries to come out this year. The archive footage is gorgeous and immersive, particularly in the beginning when we are being introduced to Cohen and Ihlen and the island of Hydra, and the score is equally wonderful. It’s just a shame that Broomfield couldn’t quite nail down the story.

Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love is a nice-looking documentary, and although it isn’t deep or personal enough to be of any particular impact, it is still worth watching, especially if you are fascinated with the process of how art is made.

Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love opens in theaters on July 5.

TRENDING THIS WEEK

The Undoing: ‘Thrill’ Emmy Tease | HBO

What exists in shadows will come to light. Question everything October 25 with The Undoing on HBO and HBO Max. #HBO #TheUndoing #NicoleKidman #HughGrant Subscribe to HBO on YouTube: https://goo.gl/wtFYd7 Grace and Jonathan Fraser (Kidman and Hugh Grant) are living the only lives they ever wanted for themselves. Overnight a chasm opens in their lives:…

Fearless Artists | FX

Artists create. Go to fxnetworks.com to watch full episodes and to find out more about what’s coming soon to FX. Subscribe now for more FX clips: http://bit.ly/SubscribeFX Select new FX Originals, exclusively on Hulu including Devs, Mrs. America, A Teacher and The Old Man. New Seasons of the most current and new FX original series…

Truth Seekers – Official Trailer | Prime Video

About Truth Seekers: Truth Seekers is a supernatural comedy drama series featuring Nick Frost, Samson Kayo, Simon Pegg, and Emma D'Arcy. A group of part-time paranormal investigators team up to uncover a deadly conspiracy. About Prime Video: Want to watch it now? We've got it. This week's newest movies, last night's TV shows, classic favorites,…

You Are Enough | Happy Pride from HBO Max

Love always wins. Celebrate your proudest self with some of the best-loved LGBTQ+ titles and characters available now on HBO Max! Subscribe: http://bit.ly/HBOMaxYouTube Be the first to know more: HBO Max: https://hbom.ax/YT Like HBO Max on Facebook: http://bit.ly/HBOMaxFacebook Follow HBO Max on Twitter: http://bit.ly/HBOMaxTwitter Follow HBO Max on Instagram: http://bit.ly/HBOMaxInstagram About HBO Max: HBO Max…

Lovecraft Country: Sanctum VR | An American Dream

Welcome to Sanctum, a one-of-a-kind virtual reality experience that celebrates and complements Lovecraft Country. In “An American Dream,” the second of three events inspired by the world of the series, become a part of a live poetry performance inspired by the words of James Baldwin, adapted by Lovecraft Country writer Shannon Houston, and performed by…

Emotional Moments in World’s Toughest Race | Prime Video

Pushed to exhaustion, and the limits of their strength, these competitors not only have to battle the course but their own minds. » Watch World's Toughest Race now exclusively with your Prime membership: http://bit.ly/AmazonWTR » SUBSCRIBE: http://bit.ly/PrimeVideoSubscribe About World's Toughest Race: From the creator of Survivor, 66 teams descend upon Fiji to compete in the…

World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji – Official Trailer

Premieres August 14, 2020. From the creator of Survivor, 66 teams descend upon Fiji to compete in the most epic global adventure race ever attempted. Bear Grylls hosts this 11-day expedition that pushes competitors to their physical and emotional limits. For the veteran teams the goal is to win – but for most, the dream…

We Are Who We Are: Inside The Episode (Episode 2) | HBO

Shift your perspective. The creators and cast of We Are Who We Are take you inside episode 2. #HBO #WeAreWhoWeAre Subscribe to HBO on YouTube: https://goo.gl/wtFYd7 From Luca Guadagnino, the director of Call Me By Your Name, We Are Who We Are follows a group of teens growing up on an American Army base outside…
Avatar
Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here