a critiQal film review Moulin Rouge! (2001)

Plot: Paris, 1899. While trying to convince the owner of the Moulin Rouge to put on a play he is writing, Christian (McGregor) meets courtesan Satine (Kidman), who he falls for immediately. While Satine and Christian struggle to keep their love a secret, a Duke (Roxburgh) - who is financing the play and wants Satine for himself - becomes more suspicious...

496 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 28s)
  • ...turns the musical genre on it's ear.

With a deluge of media and a hit song on the charts (“Lady Marmalade”), Moulin Rouge was kind of hard not to hear about. The first major studio musical in years, who could of missed all the buzz?

But was it any good, or was all the hype hiding…nothing? That’s what I wanted to find out when I finally got around to renting this DVD.

The actors were very impressive. The biggest shock was Ewan McGregor singing! It was a bit scary to think about, but it turned out really well. He has showcased his singing ability before (A Life Less Ordinary), and did a pretty good job, but I was still a bit skeptical about his ability to sing like he does here. It’s very impressive, and just shows another side of his versatility as an actor (see Trainspotting (1996) and Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) to see his ability to act two totally different characters).

Nicole Kidman, gorgeous as ever, showcases a new side of her acting as well with her voice, putting a lot of emotion into each note. It makes it much more interesting when you realize that every single voice you hear is the actor/actress’ own.

Moulin Rouge has one surprising, and quite funny, difference from the typical musical: it combines popular songs of the 80’s and 90’s mixed in together. It almost becomes a trivia contest during one scene, as you try to remember who sang the original songs that they are mixing together (I, for one, will never be able to listen to Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” without it bringing to mind a quite memorable scene in this film).

Despite that distraction, the plot keeps the movie holding together, and definitely keeps the viewer’s interest. The film does escape the slow-moving parts typical of love stories, which tend to lose the viewer’s interest, unless they are incredibly involved in the film. This film moves so quickly that the viewer doesn’t have time to lose interest. Moulin Rouge is definitely a musical for the MTV generation.

The sets and costumes are incredibly intricate and definitely help the atmosphere that Moulin Rouge is trying to create. With every little detail obviously checked and double-checked, it creates such a rich backdrop to the film. There is so much for the eye to see, it’s very possible that you will miss something the first viewing.

With a unique approach to a musical, a very impressive cast (and their singing voices), and a dazzling backdrop, Moulin Rouge succeeds where no film has tried in a few years. Maybe it’s at least in part because of the director too – he just keeps getting better.

He started off with Strictly Ballroom, then it was on to Romeo + Juliet, and followed that up with Moulin Rouge. It will be interesting to see what he does next to keep the up trend going.

Moulin Rouge is turning the musical on it’s ear – and you shouldn’t miss it.

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