Film Reviews

MOULIN ROUGE

By • Jun 1st, 2001 •

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Nicole Kidman – the Movie Star that has been thrust upon us – finally earns her Hollywood title and our respect in director Baz Luhrmann’s brilliant, evocative, visually stunning, passionate, and highly alluring opera-for-our-times. MOULIN ROUGE is a turning point for cinema. This is the most important film I will see in the next five years. Luhrmann dazzles us with images that excite and provoke and will influence our culture. MOULIN ROUGE dramatically brings a highly emotional story to life, fueled with jealousy, deceit, class struggle and sex. Now why couldn’t this love story have been the backdrop for the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor?

Shakespeare wrote his plays for the people. MOULIN ROUGE is an opera for us using the music of our time. The lyrics to Madonna’s “LIKE A VIRGIN” are better known than any poem by Shelley. This might not be what The Cultural Police would like us to be remembered for, but Elton John and Paul McCartney are the writers that have defined an age. The Elton John and Bernie Taupin love song, “Your Song” is the film’s anthem. In the film it is performed by Ewan McGregor and Placido Domingo. It works beautifully. Yes, the lyrics to “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” and “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” are trite, but this is what we have built our emotional lives on. We laugh with delight when Christian’s love talk to Satine (Kidman) is based entirely on lyrics from the Lennon and McCartney ‘classic’ “All You Need Is Love.” Everything innovative about this film works. The sensuality of the gorgeous production gives it a visual orgy of lust and desire that frames the love story. What makes a great mythic love story? The writers, Luhrmann and Craig Pearce, know. Besides jealousy and desire, there’s the male ego and, in this case, the lure of money! And every great love story has pain and suffering: Romeo and Juliet, Liz and Dick, Frank and Ava, Tom and Nicole – they all ended badly. MOULIN ROUGE dazzles: the editing, the costumes, the extraordinary visual effects, the cinematography, the choreography, the music – the entire production is breathtaking.

Christian (Ewan McGregor) a poor, starving writer is enticed into the bohemian world of Toulouse-Lautrec (John Leguizamo) and the depraved world of the Moulin Rouge. McGregor showed such promise with TRAINSPOTTING and THE PILLOW BOOK, but fell disastrously in STAR WARS: EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE (as well as A LIFE LESS ORDINARY, THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER, BRASSED OFF and NIGHTWATCH). Thank God Luhrmann rescued him. McGregor can sing! And there’s real sexual chemistry with Kidman. I haven’t seen this kind of sexual fire since Joseph Fiennes gazed deeply,and often, into Jude Law’s eyes in ENEMY AT THE GATES. Christian is an innocent, but McGregor gives him a youth-driven passion for the ideal of love symbolized by the courtesan Satine that it infuses his portrayal with joy. MOULIN ROUGE is the celebration of love.

The staging of the dance numbers is fantastic. The can-can and the tango! The tango, danced to Sting’s “Roxanne,” highlights Jacek Koman as The Unconscious Argentinean. It almost carries the movie away. The opulent triumph of MOULIN ROUGE shows Luhrmann’s (and his creative team, Bazmark) ability to thrust us into a world that revolves around female sensuality, chaos, and glamour.

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