"Moulin Rouge!" DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review

11/15/2010 Posted by Admin

"Moulin Rouge!"

DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review

By Christopher Smith

In the dizzying opening moments of Baz Luhrmann’s decadent  musical, “Moulin Rouge,” which is just out on Blu-ray disc, Luhrmann--caught in the throes of an ongoing, postmodern high--takes audiences on a wild ride over the rooftops of Paris at the turn of the last century.

Ripped from F. W. Murnau’s 1926 silent film, “Faust,” the opening shot is among the first of several pop culture references, a great deal of which are hurled at the screen at a pace that’s so frenzied, the film--not to mention the audience--threatens to explode in the eye-popping excess.

Everything in the first 30 minutes of “Moulin Rouge” seems to be strung out on too much caffeine, too much cocaine, too much joie de vivre, too much Gay Paree, too much, well, too much.

Initially, the images come so fast and furious, the eye can’t focus and the heart can’t beat; colors blur, diamonds glitter, the Man in the Moon sings, dwarfs twirl, flowers bloom, the underworld shines.

But what a show.

The film, which is inspired by the famous Parisian nightclub, is pure Bollywood bombast, an imperfect fantasy filled with perfect moments that are absolutely original in spite of being completely unoriginal.
Irony, you see, is Mr. Luhrmann’s protégé, a device the director uses to powerful effect as he presses his tongue firmly to his cheek.

“Moulin Rouge” is about a lot of things, but mostly it’s about love--romantic love, love of life, culture, truth, myth, illusion, kitsch, camp and bohemia. At its core, it follows the romance between Satine (Nicole Kidman), the tragic star of the Moulin Rouge, and Christian (Ewan McGregor), the writer who comes to love her.

The plot that tosses them together is nothing special--Luhrmann himself has said it’s modeled after the Orpheus myth, “Cabaret” and “Camille”--but the actors are so good, they make it special: When Christian is asked by Toulouse-Lautrec (John Leguizamo) to write a new show called “Spectacular Spectacular” for the financially strapped nightclub, the dastardly Duke of Worcester (Richard Roxburgh) agrees to produce it, but not without a catch--the Duke wants the gorgeous Satine for himself, which ultimately pushes everyone involved to an ugly breaking point.

With Kidman freer than she’s ever been, McGregor showcasing a surprisingly strong voice and a wicked charm, and Jim Broadbent nicely cast as the Moulin Rouge’s master of ceremonies, “Moulin Rouge” follows Lurhmann’s “Romeo + Juliet” in that it incorporates a wealth of contemporary songs into its historic setting.

Extravagantly produced and beautifully choreographed, these songs--which include works from Madonna, Elton John, David Bowie, Dolly Parton and The Police, among others--become a crazed visual feast festooned in high period style. Does it work? For the most part, absolutely.

But you might want to take a nap afterward.

Grade: A-

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  1. @graywolfpack said...

    This is one of my favorite movies. Didn't see it when it was out at the theatre, didn't see it until it was on cable and boy am I sorry!