Nick Broomfield’s new documentary, Marianne and Leonard: Words of Love follows the peaks and valleys of beloved Canadian singer/songwriter/poet, and Montreal local, Leonard Cohen’s life, throughout his career up until his death, beginning with his time on the Greek island of Hydra in the 60s.

It was there that he first met his longtime lover and muse, Marianne Ihlen, who served as inspiration for one of his most beautiful and successful songs, So Long, Marianne. When Ihlen and Cohen first found each other, Cohen had yet to cross over into the world of music, and spent many of his days on the island, which was at the time somewhat of a known Bohemian Utopia, doing speed and working on his book, Beautiful Losers.

Ihlen, a Norwegian expat and recent divorcée, was also seeking refuge from the trials of life on the idyllic island with her son, Axel, when she met Cohen. There was an immediate connection between the two, and thus began the start of an on/off relationship which would go on for a decade, and a connection that would last for a lifetime. 

Nonetheless, what seems to be the beginning of a blissful companionship under the sun between the poet and his muse is put on hold when Cohen decides to return back home to Montreal. While he’s there, he decides to play a piece of Suzanne for Judy Collins.

Also featured in the documentary, Collins recounts his nervousness, as he says he can’t sing or play the guitar, but the song ultimately speaks for itself. Suzanne is an immediate hit, and Collins gets Cohen to perform it at a fundraiser with her. His timidness on stage—even leaving the stage halfway through the song, only to be brought back out by Collins—is a huge part of what has made the charming, but humble poet so beloved by all.

This is a life-changing moment for everyone; Cohen’s success skyrockets from this point on, as the world gets a new star, but Ihlen’s picturesque partnership with Cohen will never again be the same.

Though the title posits a love story, Ihlen’s presence in the documentary is scarce. In spite of the director’s inside connection to her as a close friend as well as a former lover, very little detail of Ihlen’s personality or life is incorporated into the film, with her only notable screen-time being footage from her deathbed—arguably something perhaps too intimate for the screen.

For the most part it seems that the film is primarily a Leonard Cohen story, following the eruption of his career and success, and weaving through the familiar tale of his fame, including his countless lovers, indulgent drug use, and overall turbulent mental health.

What we see of Ihlen is a fragmented portrait of a young, blonde woman, often looking out longingly at the sea, seemingly dreaming only of Cohen. Contrasted by the occasional peripheral remark about the toll of it all on her young son, Axel, who spent much of his life in and out of institutions as a result of the somewhat hedonistic insouciance that characterized the 1960s and 70s.

The story is in many ways more revelatory of the time than it is of its characters, with little unique insight into the mind of either Cohen or Ihlen. In the light that Broomfield sets the scene, it feels to be somewhat evident that the “undying love” between Cohen and Ihlen proves to be far less romantic than Cohen’s poetic ballads. 

Overall the documentary makes for an interesting watch as you are guided for a nostalgic stroll down memory lane with a great deal of interesting footage of Cohen throughout his career. Though of course there is undoubtedly substantially more documentation of Cohen available for use than there would be of Ihlen, perhaps titling the film Marianne and Leonard is somewhat misleading.

Broomfield still, however, manages to paint a complete picture of the time during which the famed relationship occurred, and even chips away somewhat at the unwoven seams of Cohen’s character and career, even if Ihlen’s character is never developed beyond mere ‘muse’.

There is still a chance to catch it in theatres.

Panelist Ron Roxtar and host Jason C. McLean discuss Montreal turning sidewalks into bike paths, caleche horses and more. Plus interviews with Projet Montréal City Counselor for St-Henri, Little Burgundy, Pointe-St-Charles and Griffintown Craig Sauvé and music legend Shawn Phillips, Community Calendar and Predictions!

News Roundup Topics: Caleche horses in Montreal, shooting guns at a hurricane, clowns protesting, POP Montreal and Lady Gaga

Panelist:

Ron Roxtar – Entertainment Journalist

Host: Jason C. McLean

Produced by Hannah Besseau (audio) and Xavier Richer Vis (video)

Craig Sauvé and Shawn Phillips interviews by Jason C. McLean, edited by Xavier Richer Vis

Recorded Sunday, September 10, 2017

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* Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

Panelists Tanu Oberoi and Laurence Tenenbaum discuss Mont;real’s 375th birthday celebrations and Guns n’ Roses returning to our city with host Jason C. McLean. Plus News Roundup, Community Calendar and Predictions!

News Roundup Topics: Sean Spicer resigns, new Governor General and the death of Chester Bennington of Linkin Park

Panelists:

Tanu Oberoi: Web designer, musician

Laurence Tenenbaum: FTB co-founder

Host: Jason C. McLean

Producers: Hannah Besseau (audio), Enzo Sabbagha (video)

Production Assistant: Xavier Richer Vis

Montreal 375 Report: Jerry Gabriel (narration), Xavier Richer Vis (video)

G n’ R Report: Hannah Besseau (narration), Xavier Richer Vis (video)

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Recorded Sunday July 23, 2017 in Montreal, Quebec

In a Sud Ouest Special, panelists Andrew MacDonald and David DesBaillets discuss FolkFest, the changing face of SouthWest Montreal, Barack Obama’s visit and more with host Jason C. McLean. Plus News Roundup, Community Calendar, Lat Night’s Weather and Predictions!

News Roundup Topics: UK Elections, New Conservative Leader, RIP Adam West

Panelists:

Andrew MacDonald: Musician, Sud Ouest resident
David DesBaillets: Legal student, political pundit, former Sud Ouest resident

Host: Jason C. McLean

Producers: Hannah Besseau (audio), Enzo Sabbagha (video)

Production Assistant: Xavier Thomas

Matt Large/FolkFest interview by Hannah Besseau

Recorded June 11, 2017 in Montreal, Quebec

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Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

Panelists Ellana Blacher and David DesBaillets discuss Montreal’s new official status as a sanctuary city and the Oscars with host Jason C. McLean. Plus News Roundup. Community Calendar and Predictions!

News Roundup Topics: New Montreal flag, M-103 and Islamophobia, Milo’s downfall and trusting the mainstream media

Panelists:

Ellana Blacher: Spoken word artist

David DesBaillets: Law student and blogger

Host: Jason C. McLean

Producers: Hannah Besseau (audio), Enzo Sabbagha (video)

Reports by Hannah Besseau

Recorded Tuesday, February 21st, 2017 in Montreal

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Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

Forget the Box and Indie Montreal are proud to present the exclusive Canadian video premier of Psychocide’s Mr Suit.

This four-piece, originally from Brooklyn and now based on Montreal, offer a catchy blend of rock, punk and metal. They will be premiering a new album, Alcohol & Bad Decisions, March 2nd and a related comic book later this spring.

Each song on the album focuses on a different fictional character and the first up, in this new video, is Mr Suit. The band will be officially launching it tomorrow (Saturday, February 18th) at Barfly, 4062A Boul St-Laurent with Young Critters and Call Me Steve, but we have an exclusive first watch.

Enjoy: