Saturday, 15 September 2018

Moulin Rouge! (2001)

There's something I've noticed over the past months as I started watching more musicals and reading what other people think about them; most of the time, people either love them or hate them. Moulin Rouge! too has such a divided audience, and, curious to see where how I'd feel about it, I decided to watch it.

The film is set in 1889 and tells the story of Christian (Ewan McGregor), a young English man who moved to Paris to pursue a penniless career as a writer. Once there, he meets a group of Bohemians, led by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (John Leguizamo), who tells him he should write a musical show for them to be performed at the Moulin Rouge. While in the process of selling the show, Christian meets Satine (Nicole Kidman), the night club's star and courtesan, and falls for her. She eventually falls for him as well but the club's owner, Harold Zidler (Jim Broadbent), is planning to sell her to a Duke (Richard Roxburgh) who will help him turn the night club into a theatre only if he can have Satine.

It's definitely not very original and pretty clich├ęd as it's your typical poor poet loves girl but girl belongs to rich man kind of plot, and it's also rather simple and predictable, but frankly, I didn't really care as Moulin Rouge! is not one of those movies who has to rely on twists or a sophisticated plot to engage and entertain its audience.

One of the many aspects the film heavily relies on is the cast. Although the characters lack characterization and development which makes it kind of hard to develop an emotional attachment to them (I didn't think I had any, to be honest, but, as the film was coming to an end, I realised that I really was rooting for Christian and Satine), and most of them don't really have a reason to exist other than for the sake of appearing in the musical numbers, the actors do a wonderful job and give the characters much more dimension and depth.

Ewan McGregor is great as Christian, the romantic and naive man who falls for the Moulin Rouge courtesan; Richard Roxburgh as the evil Duke and John Leguizamo as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec both bring to the film the right amount of comic relief; Jim Broadbent is menacing enough as Harold Zidler; it's Nicole Kidman though that simply steals the show. Her Satine is very sensual and seductive but, at the same time, she is very vulnerable and fragile. Her chemistry with McGregor is beautiful and their voices complement each other.

20th Century Fox

Another of the reasons why Moulin Rouge! works is that it is a musical. The dancing is frenetic and outlandish, and, although I didn't find some of the choreographies to be particularly memorable, it's very entertaining. And the music, oh, the music! Buz Luhrmann made some sort of musical collage with songs from Madonna, Elton John, David Bowie, and more, and it works and makes for a quite an emotional ride even if listening to the soundtrack alone.

At last, Moulin Rouge! is visually stunning. The cinematography, the editing, the production design and sets, the costumes and makeup, they all contribute to making the film a colourful feast for the eyes.

6 comments :

  1. I've been wanting to rewatch this again myself. I haven't seen it in years and I always enjoyed it.

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  2. Every time I think I'm going to watch this I change my mind and watch something else. Maybe one of these days I will go through with it. Sounds fun and even though I'm not a big fan of musicals, I don't hate them.

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  3. I'm among those in that camp that LOVE this film. It wasn't trying to be original yet it wasn't afraid to be extravagant and lavish. It was excessive but in all of the right places. It's just a film film from start to finish.

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  4. Nice review! Moulin Rouge! is one of my favorites. It's not a very original story, but everything around it like the cast, music, and production design was stunning. I love Ewan and Nicole together.

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    1. I know right, their chemistry is so beautiful!

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