A night at the Moulin Rouge is a night well spent; Moulin Rouge is easily one of the best movies of the year. In the words of SNL's Will Ferrell, "It is so good, there are not words to describe its brilliance. So, I will make up a word. I will call it scrumptulescent."
Moulin Rouge is a movie, a musical and a play all rolled into one with original songs as well as new renditions of songs from the current top 40. At the turn of the century, Moulin Rouge was a Paris nightclub where men came from around the world to see scantily clad dancing women. Henri Toulouse-Lautrec (John Leguizamo) captured images of the club in his paintings.
Nicole Kidman--who plays Satine, the leading lady of the Moulin Rouge--has a singing voice surprisingly just as beautiful as she is. Satine falls in love with Christian (Ewan McGregor). McGregor has an equally pleasing voice which we hear in the first scene, when he belts out "The Sound of Music." Not surprisingly, the theme of the play is love, best summarized by the film's tagline--"The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love, and be loved in return." It is easy to think such a theme would lend itself to cheesiness, but Kidman and McGregor never give room for that. Their flawless performances will move the hardest of hearts--there was not a dry eye in the house. The story grabs you in the first second and your eyes are glued to the screen until the lovely, heroic ending.
The music in the Moulin Rouge is being advertised as the stuff of MTV, but I guarantee you've never seen these songs like this on MTV before--except for that new rendition of Lady Marmalade.
For example, Madonna's "Like a Virgin" is sung by men as a description of Kidman's faux-feelings, and after the initial recognition of "Hey, that's Madonna!" the song fits perfectly within the script. Most of the songs in the movie either contain intertwined lines from various songs and writers or are songs that have been revamped for the movie. The film even manages to successfully mix Elton John and The Beatles. Thankfully, it does not sound like "Hold me closer Eleanor Rigby."
In addition to its strong thematics, Moulin Rouge is technically superb. The cinematography creates colors so vivid and crisp it reminded me of old Technicolor film. Scenes with the can-can dancers are so bright they almost jump off the screen. The sets are so precise and magical it is difficult to imagine how such feats were accomplished on film. The colors and details in every inch of space give the film a fairy tale-like quality.
Director Baz Luhrmann was criticized when he released his hip, modern Romeo and Juliet for making a classic into MTV trash; a critic would be hard pressed to say the same of Moulin Rouge--despite its clear MTV influence.
Moulin Rouge is a great love story--and if you've ever fallen in love or even just thought about love--this film will give the word new a meaning.