This informal black-and-white portrait of Leonard Cohen shows him at age 30 on a visit to his hometown of Montreal, where the poet, novelist and songwriter comes "to renew his neurotic affiliations." He reads his poetry to an enthusiastic crowd, strolls the streets of the city, relaxes in this three-dollar-a-night hotel room and even takes a bath.
A lot of Donald's work was salvage jobs for other people, and that's how he came to do this film. Don Owen shot the tour of the four poets, couldn't get it to work and Brittain came in and saw that the only thing that worked was the Leonard Cohen segments.
The most interesting thing is the exploration of documentary truth, where Cohen writes in the bathtub, caveat emptor, and then the two of them sit in the theatre and Don questions him about that scene. It's an interesting exchange. The whole film is basically the two of them saying, "Don't believe everything you see just because it's documentary."
They stayed friends all their life. Cohen was at Don's funeral in tears. They recognized each other as authentic human beings. The lived the lives they wanted to lead.Adam Symansky
From the playlist: Donald Brittain: Writer, filmmaker, storyteller.