you slip into its manic, kitschy groove, you won't be able to get enough"
Director: 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
RECOMMENDED (**** stars)
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
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
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
All Rights Reserved.
Review © 2003 Alternate Reality, Inc.