If you have ever loved Leonard Cohen or Gabriel Byrne (Cher to god for having me loving both), then you have no choice but to love the film!
I don't think I can ever be objective or professionally cold when I'm watching it, judging it, thinking about it, or now typing on my phone for the sake of it. But then, why the objectivity? Why the professionalism? Life has always been a darkening yet brightening, miserable yet hopeful, exciting and daunting, splendid and bleak mess. Yes, I am using that many adjectives to describe it, but here's the richness of living for you. Rich, complicated, and completely incomprehensible.
Anyway, atheist and toxicologically clean, I'm simply grateful to have a “velvet-tongued god” licking me all over, loving me through a film, instead of through heroin.
I know that the last sentence may sound gibberish, but if it sounds gibberish to you, you are not watching the film carefully and you are not getting my puns properly. Getting the puns and feeling belonged alongside all the laughs and cries, that was a huge part, too. It's like Spielberg's Ready Player One, but instead of the “virtual keys + pop culture references” bundle, you get the forever verses by the forever poet.
*Spoiler alert*, the last section of the film contains some top-class lip-syncing that is tear-inducing, heart-breaking, ambiguous-smile-that-even-oneself-don't-understand triggering.
Yes, lip-syncing. I don't know how or why they came up with the sequence, but I loved it. Speaking of it, the film must've been an exciting and creative project to work on: how many times as an actor, can one pay tribute to Leonard Cohen, whilst filming in one's own homeland, AND getting divorced, drunk, cancer-diagnosed, hallucinated, heroin-styled high, snowed, magically-cured and shot in the back of the head? Doing all that, in one single film, WITH the company of a ghost dad, a Frankenstein's monster, a tiger-headed Miss Olympia, a dementor-looking Reaper, AND Leonard Cohen songs as background music. That, dear, is having fun at work.
Gabriel Byrne isn't just having fun either, he's so brilliant and great in it. As a cohen fan, I can be really judgy when it comes to the great poet, but Gabriel simply nailed it. As always, his acting is accurate, precise, truthful, and moving. His portrayal of the character is so extremely detailed, so concept-rich, yet at the same time, seems so effortlessly done. All the hard work is behind the curtain, all the complexity is hidden within. By palpating the thinking and the logic entwined in the emotions, the audience may perhaps “feel” the actor in the character, but that's as far as it gets, you can never actually “see” him. Gabriel Byrne, like many talented actors, has the craft of a diamond: a diamond, with the help of different lights and angles, refracts different radiances and casts different shadows. It is thus able of constructing a complex and rich world around it, a circle of seemingly real yet inaccessible halo that encompasses all the sorrows and joys of drama within. But don’t forget, in the center of this illusory world is an indestructible diamond, by reflecting the illusion (of characters or plays), it retains itself and retains the truth.
Man, it's no L.C. biography, but the film feels L.C., so heavy, deep, complex, and poetic, yet somehow managed to keep being simple, funny, honest, and essentially, kind. It's down to earth in the “mortal coil” that one can't easily shuffle off, and it's up there soaring higher than the sky, further than the stars or universe ever get.
Life is short, very short.
Life is beautiful, so beautiful.
Life is shouting at you "WATCH THE BLOODY FILM!", and life is right, at least on that one.
*I do wonder how similar do landscapes of Ireland and New Zealand look to each other. Proudly dwelled three years of my youth in the greenness of the “emerald isle” down southwards of the world, I must say that the Atlantic waves rushing itself against Mweenish Beach, Ireland reminded me of the pacific blue in my dreams. Yes, not only did Leonard or Gabriel make me cry, NZ-looking Ireland did that, too.
*Don't you dare start blaming me for writing up the review in English, one latch on to the only useful foreign language one's left with when there's français québécois (oui, je l'ai dit et je le pensais, la langue française est déjà difficile sans l'aide des erreurs de prononciation de style canadien!) AND Gaeilge (which is no Chinese to me, if you pardon the pun) involved, AND you are watching it at 4 o'clock in the morning through a virtual film festival between your med school dues and classes.