With "Strictly Ballroom" and "William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet", Australian director Baz Luhrmann conquered the world with his brash, inventive exuberance. He completes his hat-trick with "Moulin Rouge", a feast for the senses that merges fin-de-siècle decadence with music ripped straight from today’s record charts.
Combining old-style Hollywood glamour, Orphean myth and boulevard farce, "Moulin Rouge" tells the story of Christian (Ewan McGregor), a young writer in Paris who begins a doomed romance with the city’s most famous courtesan, Satine (Nicole Kidman). Satine is the star of the eponymous nightspot, whose future depends on her marrying a wealthy patron (Richard Roxburgh). In a plot twist borrowed from "La Bohème" (which Luhrmann filmed for Australian television in 1993), she is also suffering from tuberculosis.
Stunningly conceived if dramatically weak, Luhrmann’s latest caused a stir at Cannes with its use of contemporary pop tunes (Elton John’s Your Song, Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit) that add an anachronistic spin to the period setting. Add flashy editing, lush production design and spectacular dance routines and the result is something akin to an extended music video - a resemblance reinforced by Kylie Minogue’s fleeting appearance as the Absinthe Fairy.
McGregor reveals a fine tenor voice as the lovestruck lead, but it’s Kidman who steals the movie with a devastating display of sultry allure. Watching her commit herself body and soul to Luhrmann’s bizarre vision makes it easy to overlook the film’s structural deficiencies and its tendency to sacrifice emotional resonance for stylistic bombast.official Moulin Rouge website.
"Moulin Rouge" is released in UK cinemas on 7th September 2001.