Moulin Rouge (2001)

Genres - Musical, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Musical Romance  |   Release Date - May 18, 2001 (USA - Limited), Nov 21, 2001 (USA - Limited Rerelease)  |   Run Time - 127 min.  |   Countries - Australia , United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Perry Seibert

A bold artistic statement, Moulin Rouge is Baz Luhrmann's first masterpiece. Frantically edited, paced, and photographed, the film is not an easy undertaking; it forces the viewer to accept it on its terms. The sets, costumes, and sound are stylish in the extreme. The greatest risk the film takes is having the characters speak predominantly in song lyrics. The young writer Christian (Ewan McGregor) and the doomed performer Satine (Nicole Kidman) argue about whether they will fall in love while telling each other, "Love lifts us up where we belong" and "I will always love you." When they aren't speaking in song lyrics, they sing to each other, with McGregor doing a better than credible job with Elton John's "Your Song". The barrage of pop songs quickly transcends kitsch. Luhrmann uses the songs to cut across all barriers between audience members and the characters. He's not playing Name That Tune; he's commenting on the universal desire for love. The intention behind the frantic pacing is not to undercut the grand, melodramatic themes; it is not an ironic commentary on musicals or love. The passion that drips from every frame of the film is there to underscore the sweeping emotions the characters feel as they fall in love with each other. The film slows down just enough in its second half to prepare the audience for the emotionally wrenching finale, which transpires in near silent darkness. Where there was once passion, there is now nothing but the remembrance of passion. Luhrmann's film, structured in flashback, elaborates this theme. It remembers when grand passions instead of cool irony were the norm for the moviegoing public. Moulin Rouge is a joyous, elegiac shout to remember why we go to the movies. It may be too much for some people, but for a generation raised in irony, Luhrmann's film is a shocking wake-up call.