FILM OF THE MONTH

From Oct 2001
Film Review

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MOULIN ROUGE
5 Stars - Excellent

Why don't you make yourself more.....comfortable? - Nicole Kidman gets velvety

Strictly Montmartre

MOULIN ROUGE site
(20th Century Fox)

STARS: Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, John Leguizamo, Jim Broadbent, Richard Roxburgh
DIRECTOR: Baz Luhrmann SCREENPLAY: Baz Luhrmann/Craig Pearce
CERTIFICATE: 12 • DISTRIBUTOR & IMAGE Copyright: 20th Century Fox
RUNNING TIME: 2hrs 06mins
OPENING DATE (UK): September 7

Also recommended: The Fast and The Furious

Excessively over the top in every sparkling way – from its dazzling design and clashing use of modern pop songs in a historical context, to its incredible energy and luminescent performances, director Baz (Romeo + Juliet) Lurhmann’s latest genre pastiche is a bejeweled tour de force of driving glitz, glamour and gutsiness that the word ‘fabulous’ was surely invented for.

Imagine a rock video Gigi set in Studio 54 and using every trick in the visual handbook and directed by Thirties musical genius Busby Berkeley and you may get an inkling of the stunning achievement Lurhmann has pulled off. Purists may not like it but, outdoing anything in the musical arena that Hollywood has produced since the Gene Kelly glory days, Moulin Rouge dwells on fantasy artifice gone mad in a way that’s too much, too wonderful and too brilliant to convey here. This is one sensory overload you have to see to believe.

Forget the rather thin gay Paris story Luhrmann does continuously. It’s basically about poor writer Christian (McGregor) falling for consumptive courtesan Satine (Kidman), the headlining chanteuse at the bohemian Moulin Rouge nightclub, and diverting her romantic attentions away from rich Duke (Roxburgh) who is keen to fund her next show, ‘Spectacular Spectacular’, and make her a star in return for hot nights of passion. Yet it doesn’t matter that the plot has about as much depth as a ripe Camembert. It’s the ultra bold style and insouciant sequined sheen Lurhmann brings to the glorious chaos that counts. But don’t think for a moment that this delirious celebration of 100 years of pop culture – quoting French silent film fantasist Georges Melies as much as the golden MGM musical era – deals in deranged risk-taking for its own sake. For the moving poignancy that both Kidman and McGregor (who have lovely voices incidentally), bring to their production numbers is both heartfelt and electrifyingly potent.

It’s the imaginatively flamboyant routines that are Moulin Rouge’s sole point of existence. Superbly performed, choreographed and edited to dizzying degrees are the songs The Sound of Music, Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend, Your Song, One Day I’ll Fly Away and Rhythm of the Night. Rap sampling techniques mean that Diamonds is spliced with Material Girl and Silly Love Songs with Don’t Leave Me This Way, I Will Always Love You and a host of other famous ballads. The effect is simply stunning – camp, endearing and magnificent all at the same time.

And I haven’t even mentioned Roxanne re-imagined as a dark tango or Jim Broadbent, as the Moulin Rouge’s master of ceremonies Zidler, singing Like A Virgin! If you don’t have the soundtrack based on the recent Lady Marmalade hit, then I guarantee you’ll rush out and buy it after witnessing the treasure trove of delights contained in this staggeringly beautiful and bravura fairy-tale. Don’t miss the opening overture sequence either. A classic scene in what you may have guessed is my absolute favourite movie of the year.

Alan Jones

Read our massive reviews section in this month's Film Review
Reviews © Visual Imagination Ltd 2001. Not for reproduction.

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