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Moulin Rouge

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Moulin Rouge

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Nicole Kidman
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 126 Minutes
Release Date: June 2001
Genres: Drama, Music, Romance

*Also starring: John Leguizamo, Jim Broadbent, Garry McDonald, Richard Roxburgh, David Wenham, Jacek Koman, Kylie Minogue

Review by Steve Rhodes
3½ stars out of 4

MOULIN ROUGE is the most audacious effort yet from director Baz Luhrmann, who last, in ROMEO + JULIET, imagined two Shakespearean lovers in a modern Verona Beach setting. This time, Luhrmann turns his considerable talent to bringing back the movie musical, an art form whose obituary had supposedly long since been written.

Starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, as Satine and Christian, two star-crossed lovers, this fairytale of a movie is a cornucopia of singing and dancing. In fact there are probably enough songs in it for three musicals. McGregor's big role of late was as Obi-Wan Kenobi in THE PHANTOM MENACE and Kidman's was in EYES WIDE SHUT. She is, however, perhaps best known these days for her well publicized contract dispute with a guy who has impossible missions.

The movie's phenomenal sets look like a Tim Burton production of WILLIE WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. Among many imaginative and magical scenes, one has Satine and Christian standing on a cloud between the starry, deep blue sky and the twinkling apartment lights of Paris in 1899 -- "the summer of love."

The film opens with such a long cacophony and montage of blurring images that it seems that the picture might be one of those near storyless movies like PINK FLOYD THE WALL. This all changes when McGregor and Kidman begin to sing, "The Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of Music" in his case and "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend" in hers. To answer your first question: Yes, they sing all of their own songs. And to answer your second: Yes, they are quite good, especially McGregor. Best of all are their love duets, and their chemistry together is both credible and touching.

The story, which is filled with humor as well as love, concerns a fantastical nightclub called the Moulin Rouge, which is run by an impresario named Zidler (Jim Broadbent from TOPSY-TURVY). He transforms his nightclub into a theater in order to put on a play called "Spectacular Spectacular," written by Christian. The leading role will be sung by Satine, a courtesan.

In order to get the funding Zidler gives the deed to the Moulin Rouge, and effectively to Satine as well, to the evil Duke of Monroth (Richard Roxburgh). This deal might have worked out, had Christian and Satine not fallen in love. A hopeless romantic, Christian's fundamental believe is, "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and to be loved in return." The tragedy of the story comes from Satine's health -- she's dying of consumption -- and Christian's self-acknowledged "ridiculous obsession with love."

Operatic in scope, the film assaults our senses with the sumptuous music, costumes, sets and story. With its rapid pacing, jump cuts, speed ups and slow downs, the film will leave you emotionally drained and exhilarated by the end, which does more with the "show must go on" than you could ever imagine. It is also a rare film that is such a crowd-pleaser that you're likely to hear, as we did, spontaneous applause during the movie.

MOULIN ROUGE runs 2:10. It is rated PG-13 for sexual content and would be acceptable for kids around 12 and up.

My son Jeffrey, age 12, gave the film ***. He had trouble with the intensity of the dying part but liked the music and the dancing.

Copyright 2001 Steve Rhodes

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