Urban Cinefile
"I think I learned comedy watching my father react to my mother, because, well, she's formidable."  -Actor, Kevin Kline
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday, December 5, 2017 

Search SEARCH FOR A VIDEO_FILE
Our Review Policy OUR REVIEW POLICY
Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE

Help/Contact

MOULIN ROUGE

SYNOPSIS: In turn of the century Paris, aspiring poet Christian (Ewan McGregor) arrives in bohemian Montmartre, home of the famous Moulin Rouge nightclub/bar/brothel. Befriended by painter Henri Toulouse-Lautrec (John Leguizamo) Christain finds himself writing a musical play that will be performed at Moulin Rouge, starring Paris' most famous courtesan, Satine (Nicole Kidman), who has ambitions of becoming a serious actress. Christian and Satine fall in love but their happiness is threatened by The Duke of Worcester (Richard Roxburgh), whose financial support for the production and the installation of a theatre at Moulin Rouge are conditional on his exclusive access to Satine.

“Filled with a fusillade of images, an eclectic list of songs – plus doses of hyper-reality - Moulin Rouge is a seductive and original film, a turbocharged tribute to romanticism. Often daring in a readiness to push the concept to its ultimate, the film is chockers with diverse elements that would defy a lesser filmmaker, ranging from kitsch and camp to romance, idealism, melodrama and overstatement. While joyously reveling in the ability of film technique and language to create great ‘effect’, the love story at the heart of the film is real. This is the engine of the film for the audience, where our emotions are engaged fully aware of the construct around it. Luhrmann takes the idea of a screen musical to its ultimate conclusion; whereas most musicals treat the songs as ‘pretend normal’ Luhrmann embraces the artificiality of the musical numbers and turns them into vehicles of vibrant screen fantasy and fired imagination. If you’re going to have a musical, it may as well be wild and wonderful. And as in Strictly Ballroom, the lovers are more naturalistic characters than the surrounding supports. Energetic and poignant, playful and plentiful, there is a sense of creative freewheeling and risk taking. And it’s a passionate film with far more humour than perhaps anticipated – considering it’s a tale of tragic love. Musically, the film makes brilliant use of songs in the public consciousness, orchestrated with extraordinary flair. The leads are given a tough task here, bridging across farcical and slapstick to internal and dramatic to romantic to lustful. As you might expect, Luhrmann sidesteps the traditional rendition of a can can, going for something more volatile and ‘throaty’. Yet the film begins seductively, lingering on Christian as he recalls the events of the film, while the signature song introduces us to the Paris of 1900 as imagined by Baz and his team, and the broken hearted lyrics cascade from the screen, telling the story of a “strange enchanted lonely boy,” who wandered very far, who discovered that the greatest thing, was just to love, and be loved in return. That’s the signature key to the love story at the Moulin Rouge.”
Andrew L. Urban

“A spectacle of fantasy, music and colour, Moulin Rouge is a high energy collision of comedy and tragedy, powered by sensational production design. It’s as though Baz Luhrmann has unlocked his magical paint box and generously squeezed out dollops of rich, thick paint of every colour and texture, filling a large canvas with his brilliant, distinctive strokes. The result is a cinematic spectacle whose emotions range from dazzle to delicate. It’s Strictly Ballroom in the days of the Hollywood musical with a touch of the Rocky Horror Show. A non stop visual explosion, there is no doubt that the production itself is the star, often overshadowing the characters and storyline; the visuals seep into our subconscious and reverberate forcefully and confidently. For me, the heart of the tale is one that grows slowly. Ewan McGregor is a fabulous surprise – his is the perfect ‘very strange enchanted boy’ of the haunting Nature Boy lyric. His eyes are tinged with naivitee and wonder as we watch them fill with the bewildering passion of an ignited flame. The completeness with which he inhabits Christian – from the heart to his impressive vocals – forms the foundation on which the soul of the film is built. Nicole Kidman’s porcelain ice-princess Satine is striking; her creamy skin, flame hair and seductive lips define her as Christian’s object of desire: ‘I’m paid to make men believe what they want to believe…’ Jim Broadbent’s wonderful Zidler, Richard Roxburgh’s delicious duke (Roxburgh has never been better; a villain to boo and hiss), and John Leguizamo’s poignant, tragic Toulouse Laurec are all simply outstanding. Each creates a truly moving character, that while larger than life, also proffers humanity. Highlights are many; for me the romantic musical interlude above the Paris skyline (fabulously created by Animal Logic), with the singing moon high above the cotton wool clouds and the myriad of twinkling stars around the Eiffel Tower is a special moment. The cross pollination of the musical genres and styles, the extraordinary arrangements and showy costumes, the superlative editing – Moulin Rouge has it all. From vaudeville to opera, Moulin Rouge is an exotic trip that teeters from the edge of reality to a sublime yet vulgar world that offers us our dreams, while always reminding us of their price.”
Louise Keller

“There was never any doubt Baz Luhrmann and his creative partners would deliver a spectacular visual experience in Moulin Rouge. They've done that from the moment a curtain opens on the 20th Century Fox logo and an orchestra conductor in the bottom of frame whips the baton furiously as the famous Fox overture thunders out. For the next half hour there's barely time to breathe as we're whisked into the velvet interior of the club itself. Frantic (too frantic at times) imagery and framing are sexual and arousing as the camera glides over, under and around the hedonistic delights on offer in the place you'd want to be in Paris, 1899. The big questions are how well the Christian-Satine love story stands up in the midst of such sensory assault and how old and new songs are accommodated. The sight of middle-aged men in top hats chanting Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit and Kidman and McGregor duetting lines lifted from Up Where We Belong, Silly Love Songs and I Will Always Love You might have been disastrous, but here it works. Sheer confidence makes the time-travelling soundtrack fit perfectly into this 9-ring circus. Unfortunately the love story suffers as a result. Despite an excellent performance by McGregor and a good one by Kidman, their characters seem more like puppets in a demented marionette show than things of flesh and blood. Elsewhere it suits - Jim Broadbent (sweating more than Gig Young in They Shoot, Horses Don't They?) as Moulin Rouge M.C. Zidler, John Leguizamo pulling out every speech impediment in the book as Toulouse-Lautrec and Richard Roxburgh doing a delicious upper-class twit with a mean streak. Luhrmann was able to attract a wide audience to his previous film, Romeo + Juliet, by having one of the greatest love stories of them all underpinning his wildly stylised treatment. Here the romance is submerged. Moulin Rouge is a must-see, all-you-can-watch spectacular but its heart does not beat as it should.”
Richard Kuipers

Email this article

CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

SPECIAL STREAMING VIDEO PRESENTATION
Andrew L. Urban at Cannes 2001

NICOLE KIDMAN interview

FEATURE

MOULIN ROUGE (M)
(AUS)

CAST: Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, John Leguizamo, Jim Broadbent, Kylie Minogue, Richard Roxburgh, Christine Anu

DIRECTOR: Baz Luhrmann

PRODUCER: Martin Brown, Baz Luhrmann, Fred Baron

SCRIPT: Baz Luhrmann (written by), Craig Pearce

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Donald M. McAlpine

EDITOR: Jill Bilcock

MUSIC: Marius DeVries

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Catherine Martin

RUNNING TIME: 126 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: May 24, 2001

AUSTRALIAN RE-RELEASE: November 15, 2001

DVD RELEASE: December 5, 2001







© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2017