This is one weird, whacked-out film and I have to say
I enjoyed it. The director, Baz Luhrman has now directed three very
stylish and stylized films, Strictly
Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet
and now Moulin Rouge. Nevertheless, this movie is not going
to be for everyone. First of all, it is a straight musical. By that
I mean that the romantic leads stand singing into each others faces from
inches away a la Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald in Rose
Marie. Secondly, even though the story is purportedly set in
1899, all the music is modern. We get the idea very early in the
film when the young writer (Ewan McGregor) who is the hero of this story
breaks into song with, ``The hills are alive with the sound of music."
This continues very amusingly throughout the film as the characters break
into songs by The Beatles, Madonna, U2, David Bowie and many more.
McGregor arrives in Paris just in time to be swept up in an intrigue at
the Moulin Rouge, a nightclub slash cathouse. The headliner
at the club (Nicole Kidman) is breaking hearts while slowly dying of tuberculosis.
In true movie fashion, her disease only causes some cute fainting spells
although Kidman is thin enough to be suffering from consumption.
The Moulin Rouge is run by a flashy impresario (Jim Broadbent) who
is trying to get some investment capital from a hapless yet evil Duke (Richard
Roxborough). The actual plot isn't that interesting but who cares
with all that dancing and singing going on. McGregor, in particular
but also Kidman, do a pretty good job with the singing. They just
let it rip without any voice doubles. Broadbent is great as the boss of
the Moulin Rouge and performs what must be the most remarkable version
of Like a Virgin ever seen or heard. John Leguizamo gives an over-the-top
performance as Toulouse Lautrec. There are very few quiet moments as the
action rushes towards its inevitable conclusion which even viewers of moderate
intelligence should be able to guess in the first 5 minutes. But
it all hangs together remarkably well, and if you just let go, letting
the movie carry you along, you'll be dancing out of the theatre singing,
``Like a Virgin, for the very first time..."