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Moulin Rouge

2001 musical directed by Baz Luhrman, starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor as star-crossed lovers in France.

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A great visual experience of a musical.

  • Nov 25, 2011
Rating:
+5
**** out of ****

I believe the first Baz Luhrmann film that I ever saw was "Romeo + Juliet". I viewed it in an English class after we had finished reading Shakespeare's legendary play on-paper; and we enjoyed that one (the source material) very much. Most people in the class were, however, divided about how good the movie was; the girls seemed to enjoy Luhrmann's vision the most, while the guys - myself included - were in equally distracting states of both disgust and guilty fascination. The movie had something going for it; but it failed to stick with me, and as of now, I feel the urge to watch it again for the sake of reviewing it; because you know how I am.

But, without-a-doubt, Luhrmann has visual flare to spare. He isn't afraid to take risks by entrusting himself (and the rest of his crew) with the task of making a film that truly takes you to some different places. He isn't always looking for the unanimous response of "loved it" from the audience; but he wants you to feel something. This is even more obvious than usual in "Moulin Rouge"; the director's third, and best, feature film so far. It's a wild, bold musical affair; brimming with inspiration and life. I found it overwhelming, messy, yet thoroughly beautiful and entertaining. In short, I just couldn't take my mind off of it; and therefore, the absolutely intoxicating experience alone is worth the price of admission.

The film's hero is a lonely man named Christian (Ewan McGregor). A struggling poet who has just moved to Paris to give the Bohemian cultures a go; Christian soon discovers, upon arrival, the sins that are committed and to be discovered within the city. In particular, he happens upon the Moulin Rouge; which is a brothel filled with entertainers (and prostitutes). It is run by a jolly man named Harold Zidler (Jim Broadbent); and the most prized lady is one by the name of Satine (Nicole Kidman). On the night that Christian goes to the Moulin Rouge for a night of entertainment with some new-found friends (lead by a midget played by John Leguizamo), he sets eyes on Satine, the great beauty, for the first time; and instantly falls in love with the woman.

Christian gets his shot at seducing his new love interest when his friends intentionally get him involved in a mix-up; Satine was supposed to be meeting with The Duke of Monroth; who wishes to invest in the next show. Instead, Christian ends up in that position; Satine has never met the Duke and assumes that there was indeed no mix-up, falling for Christian's peculiar charms; mostly in the form of poems, which he recites to woo the girl, who finds herself transfixed.

We know that after this scene, and after Christian reveals his true self to Satine; that the two will be practicing what we call a "forbidden romance". Of course, given he directed "Romeo + Juliet" before this, Luhrmann has dealt with such a theme before, and by now, he seems a natural. When the relationship between these two conflicted lovers gets more serious, so does the overall tone of "Moulin Rouge". I will admit that it begins in a deceivingly comic fashion, but alas, it unfolds and ends as tragedy. And a pretty darn effective one too. Luhrmann, who crafted this fine film from both his imagination and history itself, has enough sympathy for his characters for them to work; the lovers, especially, have some rather tender and honest moments of screen-time together. McGregor and Kidman have excellent chemistry; and both sing with much vocal talent whether they are together or alone in such activity.

But there's this feeling - oh, this feeling - that Luhrmann's central intent was to create something purely visual. Well...he's certainly done it. "Moulin Rouge" is a visual trip unlike any other you're likely to come across as far as cinema goes; it has the kind of fiery ambition that I admire and the sort of perky liveliness that I absolutely, positively adore. Many people feel that "Moulin Rouge" is a flawed movie; and they're probably right. But it's the most fun I've had with a movie - musical or non-musical - in a long, long time; and therefore, it deserves my utmost praise. There isn't a dull moment to be found here, thanks to the dazzling production design and visual effects employed here. Actually, if anything, Luhrmann's nigh completely visual movie is taken to new emotional heights through the sights that we see; they are able to...convey feelings. There's surely a narrative, with likable protagonists and appropriately demeaning antagonists, but I don't necessarily love the film for its script alone; which is solid enough, but not quite ingenious. I love the film because it is truly one-of-a-kind; and you either love the thing or you don't. There's an endearing nature to films like that.

Look, it's highly doubtful that Luhrmann will ever outdo what he has accomplished here. As of now, this is the best film that I have seen from the filmmaker; and I highly doubt this is about to change. Actually, come to think of it, I don't WANT that to change. "Moulin Rouge" is purely magical in every sense of the word; a REAL movie, a REAL experience, and a REAL example of its kind. I'm a mixed person when it comes to musicals - sometimes I love them sometimes they're just good, sometimes they can be absolute garbage - but as far as the genre goes, this is clearly one of the best. You can see the fun, enjoyment, and inspiration that went into it from angles presented on both sides of the camera. There's some pretty good music here; if you can look past the potential absurdity and what some refer to as melodrama. Good, bad; Lurhmann is here to rock you, and he's certainly shaken me up, but in a good way.

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More Moulin Rouge! reviews
review by . January 06, 2006
Hmmm.........Boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl. That's basically the plotline of "Moulin Rouge" in a nutshell, but the way Baz Luhrmann interprets this story on screen has to be seen to be believed. Lots of lavish color, movement, sights and sounds explode on the screen like a Toulouse Lautrec painting on acid. Baz has captured all the excitement and decadence of 1800s Paris, given it a modern twist and reinvented the classic movie musicals of days gone by. And the result? A truly unique …
review by . December 15, 2002
This is a wonderful movie. The music, the acting, the drama, what more can you ask for? Nicole Kidman surprised me withe her performance. I admit at first I was a bit skeptical about the movie. But then I saw it adn it was just wonderful. The soundtrack is just as good. The costumes, the setting makes everything so peculiar. The movie is unique and the acting superb.  "All you'll ever need is love"
review by . March 31, 2002
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Pretty colors induce a euphoric state, Nicole Kidman is in it     Cons: Where or how did they work up the nerve to destroy those great songs?     The Bottom Line: Hey, folks, shut off the music, I'm getting a headache... Wait, did I say that or write that?      Upon my first viewing of Moulin Rouge, I really didn't know what to think. The only thing I knew for sure was that this was a spectacle if there ever was one. There's lots …
review by . February 14, 2002
posted in Movie Hype
What are the folks out in tinsel land thinking? Moulin Rouge was awful--yes, just awful, not even worthy of the one star I have given it. Yes, it may be an extravaganza, but what does this word really mean? Is it meant to portray this garish concoction of fin-du-ciecle cabaret pierced with groteseque 21st century sexuality and voiced with the modern songs of Elton John etc. ? The skewed camera angles peeking up the voluminous skirts revealing fish-netted thunder-thighs (Ugh) gave me the frantic, …
review by . April 09, 2002
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Most music, most acting, and the costumes     Cons: too loud, too busy, too confusing     The Bottom Line: It is a good love story, there are some unique twists to older songs     When I look at the others, and the credits and awards for this movie I again shake my head and wonder what rock I scurry under to sleep. Beauty? Of course there was beauty – the story of undying love between the head courtesan Satine (Nicole Kidman) and …
review by . March 26, 2002
How interesting that a movie such as Moulin Rouge could have such a deeply divided audience - you'll rarely hear anyone say they "liked it," only that they loved it or hated it.Assuming you're even looking at this product and/or its reviews insinuates that you're on the "loved it" camp, so I will skip the obligatory thematic review and skip right to the plusses of the format.The DVD version of the film lives up to expectations, as this was quite a technically stunning film. Lots of work went into …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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Genre: Music, Musical
Release Date: June 1, 2001
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 2hrs 6min
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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