44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Moulin Rouge  [DVD] (DVD)
If you dismiss the premise behind Moulin Rouge (a love story set in Bohemian Paris, told largely through song with scant regard for the restraints of reality) as improbable and almost absurd, you may miss one of the best films of recent years. Only in the skilled hands of Baz Luhrman could such a feat be pulled off: it IS pulled off, and spectacularly so. The film flickers from the hilarious to the dark and tragic, and despite the unashamed flamboyance and craziness of the world of the Moulin Rouge, no character (except possibly the naïve Christian - Ewan McGregor) is at all simplified. Behind the scenes and beyond the façade of garish physical pleasure that makes up the Moulin Rouge, we see the human face of the buffoon-like Harold Zidler (Jim Broadbent), the secret hopes and dreams of Satine (Nicole Kidman), the giggling courtesan, and the dark and dangerous core of jealousy behind the apparently absurd and utterly ridiculous Duke (Richard Roxburgh.)
The story itself is extremely powerful, and the use of some of the most famous songs of the last thirty years simply gives it wings. The hilarious take on Madonna's Like a Virgin provides one of the funniest moments of the film, and the declaration of love through Elton John's Song, and the following famous love medley (set in and on a giant jewel encrusted elephant, no less, in which the two lovers dance around a miniature Paris to the crooning of a singing moon) must be one of the most romantic declarations of love in any film, ever. This most powerful scene, however, must go to the 'Roxanne' tango number: the kind of stuff that gives you goosebumps up the back of your neck. McGregor and Kidman actually singing always threatened to be a weak link, but they get away with it, and their acting is solid throughout. While Broadbent gives an excellent comic performance two of the best showings are from Caroline O'Connor, as Nini, and John Leguizamo, as Henri Toulouse-Latrec. The fact that neither of these two are in starring roles demonstrates the depth and consistency of talent that make up the fabric of the film.
Most of all, Moulin Rouge is special because of its cinematography: totally lavish colours and lights make up a surreal kaleidoscope of wealth and depravity. At its heart, yes: it's a story about love, overcoming all obstacles. But it's the storytelling itself that makes this among the most memorable films of recent years.