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Poor Marianne Ihlen. First she gets lumbered with the thankless job of being a “muse” – effectively serving up sandwiches and sex to Leonard Cohen while he chomps on fistfuls of drugs and writes an unreadable novel. Then she becomes the subject of Nick Broomfield’s clammy, pawing narration, which nearly trips over itself in its eagerness to claim her as his own (admittedly fleeting) lover years ago. Broomfield’s personal link to the story of the on/off open relationship between Ihlen and Cohen is presumably the reason he made this film, but putting himself into the history like this feels slightly off. It yet again takes the focus away from a woman who spent a lifetime in the shadows.
It’s a questionable directorial decision, but not one that wholly sinks the film. The archive material – Marianne, wafting, enigmatic and golden; the normally sombre Cohen so baked on drugs that his conversation is reduced to a slow-motion giggle – is intimate and revealing. The film gives an intriguing glimpse of a bohemian creative community on the Greek island of Hydra and an affecting double portrait of two linked lives.
Source: The Guardian
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