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"...once you slip into its manic, kitschy groove, you won't be able to get enough"


Rated PG-13

Baz Luhrmann 
Screenwriters: Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce
Cast: Nicole Kidman (Satine), Ewan McGregor (Christian), John Leguizamo (Toulouse Lautrec), Jim Broadbent (Zidler), Richard Roxburgh (Duke of Worcester)
Running Time: 126 minutes

Released: June 16, 2001


ALTERNATE REALITY Review by Jim Rutkowski
From the very beginning, you know it's going to be something unique. The Fox logo appears a screen within a screen, surrounded by a lavish curtain, in the thin as a rail conductor waves his arms wildly. "The Sound Of Music" begins to play. Christian (Ewan McGregor) has come to Paris to gain "experience" for his writing. After singing a few bars, he charms a lisping Toulouse-Lautrec(John Leguizamo)and his friends. They drink absinthe, receive the blessing of a green fairy (played by former pop star Kylie Minogue) and head straight away to the famed Moulin Rouge nightclub, where the proprietor Zidler (Jim Broadbent) greets everyone with a chorus of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

Whew! All this in the first ten minutes. Part 1940's musical, part Monkee's episode and part MTV video, director Baz Luhrmann's new film is grandiose and whimsical. So energetic and inventive, in fact, it's hard to believe it comes from a major studio.

The film's plot as written by Luhrmann and Craig Pearce, has Christiane a penniless writer from London, encountering Satine (Nicole Kidman)at the infamous Paris nightspot. He falls for her, but she has been promised to the Duke of Worcester (Richard Roxburgh), a fop who has agreed to pay for a new theatrical stage at the Moulin Rouge.Of course Christian and Satinedo become the object of each other's affections. However, neither the Duke nor Christian realizes that the woman of their desires is living on borrowed time. Satine has contracted that most obscure malady known as consumption. This may seem like one big sugary cliché after another, but in Luhrmann's hands it is genuinely moving. The choice of songs and somewhat mad visual style maybe his conceit, but it is a glorious conceit. His previous films; the enjoyable Strictly Ballroom and the somewhat ill-conceived Leonardo DiCaprio vehicle Romeo and Juliet, only begin to point the way to this dazzlingly preposterous bit of operatic froth. Visually the film is sumptuous. The digitally created landscapes of Paris are layered like a Lautrec inspired, nocturnal layer cake (perhaps Lautrec on hallucinogens.)The club's set design is a dizzy, whirling and twirling wheel of decadence. Within the club, the musical numbers are staged with a frenzied flare. Frenzied being the operative word. The editing is so fast and furious that the cuts seem to be made after every syllable as opposed to every line or scene.

The performances are uniformly excellent. McGregor as the idealistic writer in search "truth, beauty and love" is very charismatic here. When he lapses into Elton John's "Your Song" it is a truly warm and romantic moment. His singing abilities are so strong that perhaps he has a second career ahead of him. The usually emotionally distant Nicole Kidman whose acting talent is very strong (To Die For, Eyes Wide Shut; both Oscar worthy performances)has never been more amiable than here. Not to mention sexier. Her vocal abilities are more than a match for McGregor's.

Moulin Rouge may take some adjustment on the audience's part. But once you slip into its manic, kitschy groove, you won't be able to get enough. The songs include: "Lady Marmalade", "Like a Virgin", "Roxanne", "Diamonds Are a Girls' Best Friend", "Material Girl" and others. The psychedelic visuals, the imagery inspired by everyone from George Melies to Marilyn Monroe to Madonna and god knows what else add up to one of the most daring and original films of the year.

MOULIN ROUGE  ©  2001 20TH Century Fox.
All Rights Reserved.

Review © 2003 Alternate Reality, Inc.