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
Johns "Your Song" that she belts out with a volcanic ferocity to Ewan
McGregor in the Baz Luhrmann love fest Moulin Rouge. Forget what youve 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 Shakespeares 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 Im 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 Satines love to the powerful
Duke (Richard Roxbough, who looks like he would be a perfect fit in a Dudley Do-Right
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?