Moulin Rouge!

Moulin Rouge!

****

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Moulin Rouge took me by surprise. For some time, I had been interested in Baz Luhrman's development as a director, but I hadn't yet encountered anything of his which I actually liked, and I was hesitant about this one; that I eventually saw it at all was something of an accident. Basically, I figured that there were worse ways to spend an evening than looking at the lovely Nicole Kidman in corsetry.

Though it was by no means a perfect film, and aspects of it were truly awful, I was, overall, very pleased. This little concoction of feathers and fluff had more than just a pretty face. It had a darker, more intense, more genuinely emotional story than any of the publicity had suggested, yet it retained the energy and spirit of classic cabaret. I can't wait to see what Luhrman does with his next project, because I've a feeling that he's still learning his craft, and that he's going to come up with something really special in the future.

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Moulin Rouge was perfectly cast, Ewan McGregor in particular making a superb job of the always difficult straight role and handling with all the necessary conviction a character very different from anything else he has recently played. For once, Jim Broadbent got the meaty role he has long deserved. I've heard a few punk versions of Like A Virgin in my time, but his was the sleaziest of all. Kylie Minogue made a delightfully disturbing Green Fairy. Nicole Kidman was not only beautiful but also charismatic, reminding me of her impressive performance in Dead Calm, with a strength which Hollywood seemed to suck out of her in the intervening years. Furthermore, the film made great use of the musical form, establishing an emotional hyperrealism of the sort that only ever works when no-one's faith or courage falters.

Where the film fell down was in its sometimes weak choice of songs and lack of original musical material, in comedic scenes which were pushed just slightly too far to maintain that essential illusion, and in its pacing, which was, at times, painstakingly slow. Its rich visuals sometimes diminished the impact of the performers, especially in the final number, which could have been much better. The contrast between bright, glossy glamour and underlying misery was impressively handled, however, true to the subject matter (with fine small touches such as the unrequited love of a devoted servant), and the violence, when it happened, was truly horrific. Bold, vivacious, and remarkably affecting.

Reviewed on: 27 Jun 2007
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Moulin Rouge! packshot
Modern romantic musical based around the mythology of a famous Parisian nightclub in 1900. On re-release.
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Read more Moulin Rouge! reviews:

Angus Wolfe Murray *****

Director: Baz Luhrmann

Writer: Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, John Leguizamo, Jim Broadbent, Richard Roxburgh, Garry McDonald, Jacek Koman

Year: 2001

Runtime: 122 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Australia

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The Blue Angel
Midnight In Paris