Review Date: June 01, 2001
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Writer: Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce
Producers: Baz Luhrmann, Fred Baron, Martin Brown
Nicole Kidman as Satine
Ewan McGregor as Christian
John Leguizamo as Toulouse
A British poet moves to France and finds himself in a position to write a play for the Moulin Rouge. Soon thereafter, he falls in love with one of its stars, Satine. But the play and the Moulin Rouge will not go on unless a certain Duke invests his money into it. The catch? The Duke is also in love with Satine and doesn't know about the secret love affair between the poet and Satine. Oh yeah...and people sing throughout!
A surprisingly potent love story is placed inside a red-hot bottle of music, dance, colors and vibrancy, and splashed across your movie screen with love as its foundation. Will everyone like it? Certainly not, the film has a certain over-stylized energy about it which may not sit well with everyone (I personally enjoyed most of the film's unique camera trickery, but did get lost in its frenzy from time to time), but anyone who loves musicals is sure to at least appreciate Mr. Luhrmann's bold approach to reviving this lost genre of films. I never did like musicals myself but ever since I was pleasantly surprised by last year's LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST, I've opened my eyes to them, and with this film, you simply could not close them back again (there's so much happening on screen all the time!). I've also gotta credit all of the actors with amazing performances across the board. Nicole Kidman, wow, I was never much of a fan of hers, but she really gives you everything in this film. Dancing, acting, loving, crying, singing, fainting...she covered every angle out there and actually got me to invest myself emotionally to her character. And yes, I will even go out on a limb and ask the Academy to remember her at the end of this year if no other major actress roles have come through for a nomination as Best Actress. But let's not forget McGregor either. His ying to her yang, Ewan also surprised me with a different side of himself, one which resonated a genuine sense of passion, love, anguish and song! Damn, that boy could sing! And even more kudos go out to Jim Broadbent and Richard Roxburgh, who played the Duke and Mr. Zidler, for presenting us with more than just your everyday one-dimensional secondary characters. They are also a big part of what makes this movie work.
Of course, the film's main draw was its use of modern songs and lyrics inside a world of the past, and that experiment on its own definitely won me over. Anyone who could successfully incorporate Elton John, Kiss, Madonna and Nirvana into the same movie song list is "okay" in my book! In fact, many of the song sequences were beautifully sung and choreographed, touched up with stunning sets and atmosphere, and left quite an impression in my mind. One of my favorites was when the whole "gang" from the Moulin Rouge was trying to convince the Duke to invest with them by dancing and singing a rapid-fire ditty inside the big elephant. A sure-to-be classic scene (I know that it might sound goofy, but when you see the movie, you'll see what I mean). But in the end, movies like this are ultimately going to be judged by their basic storylines and I have to tell you that I too was quite shocked to find myself attached and rooting for the characters in this film. Thumbs up to Baz Luhrmann on two counts then: one for creating an extraordinary vision of an underground world so delightful and peppy and two, for co-writing a touching, funny, original and romantically tragic screenplay. This movie works because it enraptures its energy, love, style and wonderful set designs with solid acting, captivating song sequences and a love story that is sure to touch your heart. Yeah, JoBlo ain't a wuss but he sure lapped up everything that the director was handing out at this fantasy land. What's next...Broadway?
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian