This is the story of a girl who cried a river and drowned the whole world.
Well, perhaps not the entire world, but the intensity of her emotions
certainly drive the world around her, an electrically charged den of sin
known as the Moulin Rouge.
Director Baz Luhrmann has magically created a magical world of magical love
between a young writer whose pen creates works of pure magic and a tempting
temptress so alive, so appealing, that every little thing she does is magic.
The story is simple. Boy meets girl, boy wants girl, girl wants boy, boy
can't have girl, they write a play. What isn't simple is the frantic setting
in which this story takes place.
The Moulin Rouge is a big red windmill in the heart of Paris. It's a
nightclub that featured the bohemian lifestyle at the turn of the last
century, where decadence and passion rule the day. No time for a conscience,
and they recognize no crime; yeah, they got dogs and Valvoline. It's a pretty
damn good time.
The Boy in question is Ewan McGregor, Obi-Wan himself. He's a young,
innocent writer, looking to enter a world of sin. His entry is hastened when
a narcoleptic Argentinean falls through his roof and he meets Bohemian savant
Toulouse Lautrec, played brilliantly by John Leguizamo. Lautrec eventually
introduces Ewan to the woman of his dreams, Satine. Satine is Nicole Kidman,
and the ice queen sends shivers of lust down every man's spine. She's so
lucky, she's a star, but she cry, cry, cries in the lonely heart. Satine
spends her life in a shell, never believing in love, until Ewan- who knows
what a girl wants, what a girl needs- sweeps her off her feet.
Unfortunately, there's a Duke. And therein lies the conflict. He desires
Satine for his own, and refuses to be treated like a chump, like a chump,
like a chump, like a chump, like a chump, like a chump, like a chump.
This movie is unlike just about anything you've seen on the screen in a long
time. Visually, it's stunning, almost frantic. The camera zooms and you fly
like an eagle through the sets. The costumes shine in a myriad of colors and
textures. Everything is unique and in your face. But as if that weren't
enough, this is a musical. THEY SING. A LOT. Nicole Kidman and Ewan
McGregor sing, sing a song and sing well. And what do they sing? For the
most part, they sing a weird mix of pop songs and standards: Roxanne. Like a
Virgin. Smells Like Teen Spirit. Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend. The
Show Must Go On. And many others.
And you hear these songs as if for the first time all over again.
Word to the wise. This movie is it's own genre. Many people who see it love
it. Many others like it a heck of a lot. Some absolutely hate it and walk
out after twenty minutes. The opening sequence is more uncontrollable than
an MTV Video shot on speed. It's an attack on the senses that will leave you
either breathless with hedonistic excitement or storming out the door
demanding your money back. You should be able to tell which of these two
categories you belong to, and consider yourself warned if you know you'll be
in the second category and yet brave the movie anyway. It is not for
But it is for many, and for some it is a true spark of originality and life
that they've been begging for. "Give me something I'm not expecting!" they
cry, and Baz replies with this work of art.
I don't mean to give you the impression that it's perfect. It may be
erratic for its own good. But I'll take this baby over a hundred Pearl
Harbors any day of the week and twice on Sundays.
So see the movie, but not if you have a heart condition, are currently
pregnant, or are prone to fits and seizures. This is not a film for the
In the end, I bestow 3 5/6 Babylons upon Moulin Rouge. Quite the show, quite
Just now when SMC dropped this review off in my office, he was humming "Silly
Love Songs." This movie should be banned.
Directed By: Baz Luhrmann
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, John Leguizamo, Jim Broadbent,
Richard Roxburgh, Sting, Kurt Cobain, Madonna, Freddie Mercury and DeBarge.
Yes, DeBarge. They're cool again. Yes they are.