Movie Review: Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge (2001)

I forgot how good this movie was. Recently I watched it for a screenplay analysis. You can read that post here. This film is just so good. I believe Baz Luhrmann's masterpiece is what re-ignited interest in the movie musical. Everything about this movie keeps you captivated. The characters do an impressive job. Ewan McGregor is convincing as the starry-eyed idealistic poet who falls in love with Satine. He sees nothing but her, and his face lights up when she walks into the room. Nicole Kidman does a decent job in her role as well, although all she has to do is be gorgeous and tantalizing. Towards the end of the movie, she does pick up her game and presents a haunting portrait of a woman who knows she has doomed herself to a life of torment without her love. Both of them do fine as singers. I am sure their voices were touched up a lot, but who cares?

The supporting cast is great as well. The Duke sneers effectively. Jim Broadbent as Harold Zigler is great as the manager of the Moulin Rouge. He is a kind man, although his first love is his theater. He truly is sorry he has to ask Satine to sacrifice herself, but not sorry enough that he is willing to see the Moulin Rouge go bankrupt. He has a great number towards the end called The Show Must Go On. My favorite supporting actor by far has to be John Leguizamo, a Baz Luhrmann regular. He plays the dwarfed version of Toulouse-Lautrec well and represents all that glitters in the Bohemian. He believes in truth, beauty, and love and wants everyone around him to have all 3 if possible.

The music is breathtaking. I always cry during the Come What May at the end of the show. And the look of the film is just beautiful. It makes the Moulin Rouge look like a beautiful carnival of sound, color, and melody.

The pacing is just right. I understand that Luhrmann has a background in opera. This truly shows in his ability to make powerful use of the music mixed with the pictures. He has knowledge of how to play his audience. I was also impressed with how he created just the right mix of tragedy and comedy. During Act II, a very dark act, he throws in a light number, Like a Virgin, which provides needed comic relief. There is also the stunning dance number Roxanne, which makes effective use of the montage technique using scenes from both the dancers and the turmoil happening upstairs in an erotic tango. He truly builds tension to the breaking point.

I highly recommend this movie for a romantic evening, a girls' night, or as a pick me up. I always get chills when I watch the clip above. The opera singer starts, the magic dust is thrown, and the confetti explodes . . .