Moulin Rouge (USA; 115min.)

directed by: Baz Luhrmann
starring: Ewan McGregor; Nicole Kidman; Jim Broadbent
Diane says: "I call it a confection. So sue me! I was pulled in by the wonderful color and chaos in the first third, bored by the middle chunk, regained interest when the drama picked up toward the end. I was in hysterics beginning with the conductor leaping around in the opening sequence. Yes, "Look, a little frog!" was a moment that revived me!

But OOPS! It's the old fall-in-love-with-a-sex-worker-and-then-expect-her-not-to-have-sex-with-anyone-else routine! Emily, quick, we need your feminist analysis. Men have this thing about prostitutes. (I'm using "men" very stereotypically here--accept it who will.) Yes, this fantasy about being the one man who can get through to the heart of a sex worker rears its ugly head in college movies, "Center of the World" (not that I've seen it!) and now here. "This is a story about LOVE" is the film's epitaph, but Janet counters, "This is a story about ownership." Satine had a job and a dream, and Christian didn't support either. He couldn't stand for her to have sex with the duke. What was he thinking when he fell in love with a courtesan??!! I urge everyone not to support this as an acceptable storyline in any film. (Janet also made some funny points about how if Satine's job involved kinky sex where she had to be in control for her own protection, as we can deduce from her first interaction with Christian, she should have been able to handle the Duke at his worst, at least had some self-defense training.)

I loved Jim Broadbent, and Ewan was cute and sang well. We both thought that the Roxanne number was the best part of the movie.

I was worried about not liking the music, just because I'm not into pop, not because I don't like musicals, but there were two good things: most of the songs got short treatment, and I hardly recognized any of them" 3 cats
Kevin says: "I saw Baz Luhrmann's MOULIN ROUGE tonight. I absolutely loved it. My friend was complaining about the melodramatic love story and the cliche ending...but I think that was exactly the point...those characteristics were absolutely intentional. Luhrmann has renovated the film musical and those are essential parts. Ewan Best performance of 2001 thus far; and listen to that voice! Nicole Kidman is excellent as usual. So are Jim Broadbent, John Leguizamo and the rest of the ensemble. Absolutely stunning...beyond that even...production values. I was emotionally moved as well as stunned at how impeccably Luhrmann has updated, renovated, revived the musical genre while still staying true to its essence. Plus it's a hell of a lot of fun! MOULIN ROUGE est la crème de la crème." 4 1/2 cats
Laura says: "All the film's spectular excesses don't add up to a completely satisfying experience, careening as it does from slapstick to melodrama. Kidman looks ravishing, but her plight never pulls on the heartstrings. McGregor fares better, largely due to the real emotion he delivers with his full bodied singing voice. Broadbent's Zidler is a pragmatic, rather than evil, version of Joel Grey's CABARET emcee and he gives the film's most interesting performance (when Luhrmann lets us see it), yet his presence distractingly recalls the theatrical TOPSY TURVY. Leguizamo is little more than a tearful clown - Toulouse who? Roxburgh's Duke is as two dimentionally villainous as the plot demands. "Moulin Rouge" is itself like a courtesan, a lavishly oufitted, desirable beauty who excels at artifice " 3.5 CATS
For Laura's complete review: ""
Michael says: "I was a mite trepidatious going into this film... it had received polarizing reviews... unabashed gushes and cruelly dismissive put-downs. Plus, I'm not a big fan of the ultra-fast, MTV editing style that I feared would be part of the film. Wow! I loved it. During the first 10 or 15 minutes or so, I was a little nervous. A more kinetic, dizzying, over-the-top opening I haven't seen in a long time, and if that style and pace had continued throughout the movie, I don't think it would have worked. But when the credits rolled, all I could think of was, "Spectacular, Spectacular!" Truly a spectacle in the very best sense of the word. The visuals were gorgeous, the costumes were fabulous, the production numbers thrilling, the acting exceptional. Call me silly romantic, but the story (one of the oldest in the book) really worked for me too. I am a big Nicole Kidman fan, even though she's rather shaky sometimes as an actress. Since TO DIE FOR though, I do know she has it in her... and she was terrific here. The comedy, the satire, the warmth... they were all there in her performance. Ewan McGregor and Jim Broadbent were outstanding as well... they all had some pretty cliched lines/speeches to make and did so with such conviction and honesty that it really worked well. I don't think this film is for everyone, but I was damn pleased!" 4 cats
Nathaniel says: "I had the pleasure of seeing MOULIN ROUGE this weekend. I highly recommend it (although it's apparently already a love it/hate it thang.) Very innovative, unique, very risky. The negative critical reaction baffles me. Sure its challenging to a degree. It's visually and aurally dense...but what's wrong with a challenge? It's positively filled with the wonder of CINEMA. and I mean that in all caps. Anyway, I'm going to see it again this week."
For Nathaniel's complete review: ""
Robin says: "MOULIN ROUGE is a jam-packed musical extravaganza utilizing brilliantly conceived, complexly produced sets providing the viewer with a visual cornucopia of images. There is so much going on during the high-octane musical numbers, I could only think of Peter Greenaway's stunning sets in PROSPERO'S BOOKS by way of comparison. The numerous, imaginative dance routines are done with the director's patented hyperkinetic editing, giving the film the feel of Gilbert and Sullivan on acid." 3.5 cats
For Robin's complete review: ""
Sarah says: "Wow! I loved it--I call it my BEING JOHN MALKOVICH for 2001 because you just enter another world and hang on for the ride. Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous--story, songs, costumes, performances, all of it. My only quibble is I thought it could have been edited slightly and some of the slapstick in the beginning seemed a bit forced. But those are minor points compared to the great sweeping vision of this film. Ewan McGregor is my new favorite actor--I thought he was wonderfully believable as the naive writer who grows up through the course of the film. Nicole Kidman was wonderful too. I loved the production design, the way you felt like you had stepped into an old French postcard and the musical numbers were spectacular. I wish there had been more audience participation in the theater I saw it in--I broke into spontenous applause at the end of the "Like a Virgin" number and wanted to stand up and cheer at the end. I'm going to see it again tomorrow. Highly recommend, preferably at a theater with a huge screen and a cranking sound system. "
Scot says: "There is a lot to like about MOULIN ROUGE, but as far as I'm concerned, it isn't a very successful film. I have a lot to say about it, but when I try to organize my thoughts and construct a coherent paragraph, I fail miserably. Let me just bullet my observations.

First, what I liked about it:

The concept is quite fun, combining basically every basic "love conquers all" story into one. The pop music mélange was a good idea too, I think, but might have been more consistent with the overall concept if they'd used music from the entire 20th century, rather than just the last thirty years.

Kidman, McGregor, and Broadbent all give admirable performances. Criticisms regarding the leads' voices are unfounded, I think, no matter how much processing may or may not have been done to them.

The scoring is quite good, particularly in the finale of the show within the movie. I like the way you can pick out lines from virtually every song in the film.

The Like a Virgin number was delightfully appropriate and cleverly staged. I found myself applauding spontaneously at its end. Both Jim Broadbent and Richard Roxburgh shone, primarily because they had an intention to pursue and used the song for expression. Few other songs had this life to them.

The Roxanne number, too, was pretty nice, bringing together all the action and building tension ala the WEST SIDE STORY quintet. It could have been more effective if the film hadn't started at "10," leaving no room to build to this crisis point.

And what I disliked:

Most of the humor in the film was handled entirely wrong. The slapstick had no set up, the jokes had no pay off, and the farcical situations had no honesty behind them. The audible laugh cues were quite insulting. The comic parts kinda reminded me of THE FORBIDDEN ZONE, actually.

Nathaniel, in his website review, says of the pop song lyrics "It starts out silly and before you know it, it's moving. ... The clichés become meaningful truths." I'm afraid I disagree. Just the opposite. After a pretty charming rendition of Elton John's Your Song, McGregor and others repeat one line of the chorus at various points in the film, ostensibly to illustrate their depth of feeling. Unfortunately the line "How wonderful life is now you're in the world" doesn't make sense in any of these situations, reducing the lyric as meaningless as when I sang it to my seventh grade girlfriend. The songs seem set up to provide laughs whenever they are recognized by the audience, too, which also make them pretty useless as a medium for serious emotional communication.

Our hero, played by Ewan McGregor, is given no substantial reason for being in Montmartre in the first place, let alone for joining forces with Talousse Lautrec and his band of idiots. It is only once he falls in love with Satine that the story actually moves without being pushed.

Hit-or-miss John Leguizamo misses again in his most self-conscious performance to date. (Though I admire his show of dedication in having sawed his legs off.)

The rapid fire pace, particularly in the beginning, was difficult to take. I had to close my eyes at several points in the film. It did settle down at times, but the fact that Luhrmann felt the need to cut between close-ups so frequently even during Satine's death was frustrating. Give that man some Ritalin.

The Duke was never adequately dealt with in the end. Either he needs to be reformed or punished and we need to see it.

What makes Jim Broadbent see the light, and when did it happen? One minute he's saying "It's all for the best," the next he's foiling the bad guys.

I really could go on. I think the film could have been quite good, but Luhrmann got in its way. Most of his choices seemed to be about making a nifty effect rather than telling a simple story and that's too bad. It's really quite fortunate that I saw this in the theater. If I'd rented it, I would never have lasted past the first twenty excruciating minutes. Thank goodness there was something to enjoy once the story got going. I won't be nominating this film for anything."
Trent says: "How could I ever guess that Jim Broadbent's rendition of "Like a Virgin", while prancing around wrapped in a tablecloth, in MOULIN ROUGE, would be funnier, more grotesque, and scarier than THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT? Whoever did Broadbent's makeup deservers a special award from "Fangoria" or some other horror movie magazine.

Other than that I found MOULIN ROUGE to be a big mess, but a knowing mess. I think Luhrman knew he was going way over the top like the film equivalent of a Jim Steinman song. The first half hour had editing so fast you couldn't see much and acting right out of a fifth grade pageant. Some of the later scenes were wonderfully emotional but I didn't care enough about these characters. At least Nicole Kidman was able to show that she can come across as warm and inviting on screen, she can sing pretty darn well, and she is game to try lots of things. Ewan MacGregor looked too much like Jason Bateman with a bad dye job and poor John Liguizamo should find a new agent."