Moulin Rouge


  • Ewan McGregor
  • Nicole Kidman
  • John Leguizamo
Nicole Kidman stars as Satine, 1900 Paris's most famous star and highest-paid courtesan
Directed by the Baz Man! "Does this make me look too Kubrick?"

Studio 54: Where Are You?

    I think I now have evidence to explain the Tom Cruise-Nicole Kidman break-up. And it exists solely between the bars of Elton John’s "Your Song" that she belts out with a volcanic ferocity to Ewan McGregor in the Baz Luhrmann love fest Moulin Rouge. Forget what you’ve read about the spectacle that exists in the design and the execution of the film or the flourishes that Luhrmann creates with the use of modern day pop songs in 1899 Paris. The center ring of this circus is the chemistry and the, dare I say "fire" of these two. You could call it real life animalism, but I guess the more rational answer lies in two extraordinary performances in the middle of a film that amply displays the power of love and art.

    Quite in the same way he used ancient text and threw it into the world of guns and gangsters in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, co-writer and director Luhrmann has taken modern poetry and moved it to the streets of the city of love right before the turn of the 20th century. The story is told through the eyes of Christian (McGregor), a penniless London poet swept up in the moment of Bohemian Rhapsody. He moves in to a run-down hotel and meets up with a merry band of artists led by (Leguizamo, who can play a scary midget). They form an alliance to write a play in hope that it leads them to perform in the hotbed of sin and pleasure known as the Moulin Rouge.

    Okay, at this point, I admit that I was wondering what was happening. The artists are a bit too wacky, the club scenes a little too loud, and the general tone seems to suggest that Michael Bay has taken a few French art classes. Then, the audience and Christian meet Satine (Kidman). She is the star of the Moulin Rouge and she becomes the focal force of the film. Through circumstance, Christian and Satine meet and love is imminent. And you can feel it radiating off the screen. Since I’m really not a professional critic, I can say that I gushed when these two were on the screen together. It is beautiful, indeed and the film begins to settle into its place. Sadly, the emcee of the club (Jim Broadbant) has promised to sell Satine’s love to the powerful Duke (Richard Roxbough, who looks like he would be a perfect fit in a Dudley Do-Right cartoon.)

    Of course, instead of this putting a good man down, Christian devises his play to mimic the real-life aspects of his Marxist circumstance, a la Shakespeare in Love. This way he can move all of this energy into "rehearsals". Will love prevail? I guess it depends on how define the word "prevail". But how do you get a modern audience to buy into a story that tries to show love beating the limitations of class struggle set in a European historical setting? Simple, throw in a bunch of songs by Madonna, the Police, and the Beatles. So, now the thrust of the film is not merely the idea of love overcoming all obstacles, but that art, as an extension of that love, can transcend time. And honestly, music has barely been portrayed so powerfully on film before. From the men in top hats moshing along with "Smells like Teen Spirit" to the tango inspired by "Roxanne", the audience makes an emotional connection with those characters. If a song has even made you jealous or made you long for someone in your heart, then Moulin Rouge knows exactly how you feel.

    Not to mention that the film is just a total emotional kick, anyway. It looks great, stars two gorgeous people who look stunning together, and an ending that will put a tear in your eye. I almost would be willing to say that this is the perfect film to counter Pearl Harbor last weekend. If you got rid of Kate and Ben and put Ewan and Nicole in Hawaii, the Japanese would take one look and head back home. Wow, anyone else need a shower?

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2 Shakespeare in Love's
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2 David Bowie's
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4 for Moulin Rouge