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Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man


Stars: Leonard Cohen, Rufus Wainwright, Bono, Nick Cave, Jarvis Cocker

Director: Lian Lunson

I used to think Canadian-born singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen was more admirable than entertaining because I found his lyrics a tad too pretentious for my taste. Lian Lunson’s excellent film of the Cohen tribute show staged at the Sydney Opera House in January 2005 which features interesting comments about his subject by the various artists taking part has changed my attitude.

When 71-year-old Cohen talks to camera about his life and work, he comes over as a quirky, engaging original artist with a refreshing lack of self-worship. He and his lyrics no longer seem pretentious, especially when contrasted with the supremely self-satisfied rubbish spouted by Bono whom Lunson calls, among other far more interesting and germane witnesses, to talk about Cohen. Bono postures for the camera as though he was the star of the show and talks more precious nonsense than a season of the BBC’s Culture Show.

Classic Cohen songs are admirably performed by, among others, Nick Cave,
Jarvis Cocker, and, memorably, Rufus Wainwright, the singers interpolate interesting assessments of Cohen who completely won me over when he sang Tower of Song at the climax. Fascinating archive footage of Cohen’s early life adds to the enjoyment of an exemplary documentary.

Alan Frank

USA 2005. UK Distributor: Lions Gate. Colour.
103 minutes. normal ratio. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 25 Nov 2006