Moulin Rouge (2001) Movie Review

While watching Moulin Rouge, I suddenly developed a headache and a general dislike for musicals. (Not that I ever cared for them in the first place, natch.) There is a theory floating around, one that I have called the Michael Bay Theory of Film Editing, that involves movies edited in such a rapid-fire process that they resemble a 4-minute music video instead of a 90-minute movie.

Moulin Rouge is writer/director Baz Luhrmann’s way of telling the world that he’s seen way too many situation comedies. Every single plot point that occurs within the movie has been done in one American sitcom or another, and done to death. The underlying story is that the founder and star, respectively, of the Moulin Rouge nightclub are trying to get a stage show off the ground by attracting a Duke as investor, but things like true love between the star and an English writer name Christian (Ewan McGregor) complicates matters.

It doesn’t help matters that Luhrmann seems to have attention deficit disorder and is keen on giving that condition to all who watches his movie. Perhaps it’s just me, but does seeing way too many colorful crotch panties flash in one’s face make one immune to the sight of crotches? It must be, since after the 1000th crotch is thrown in my face and the 500th freeze frame on a crotch being thrown in my face, I suddenly lost all interest in a woman’s crotch. Well, at least “interest” in having crotches thrown in my face via a screen.

The movie also boasts a wide spectrum of music, such as Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Madonna’s “Material Girl” put into the mouths of some very strange individuals. This is inventive, but after witnessing a group of old men in tuxedos sing choruses from “Smells Like Teen Spirit” for the 10th time, I had images of Kurt Cobain’s skeleton rolling in its grave. (Like its visual editing style, the film also cross-cuts between songs.) Unfortunately, I was cursed not to be able to be in that same grave with poor Kurt, or else I might have avoided the rest of Moulin Rouge if I had been so saved.

To be honest, I didn’t expect this reaction to the movie, especially after all the Oscar hype surrounding the film. I expected to enjoy the flick and was looking forward to watching it. Or at the very least I expected to enjoy Luhrmann’s frenzy filming technique. After witnessing the man’s sense of style in Romeo + Juliet, I had grown fond of the man’s technique. Instead, I got a headache from the first rack-zoom-through-a-cityscape shot and my headache only got worst as the cancans and the songs mounted and mounted and mounted… And as the quick cutting began to take its toll, I was ready to shoot myself by the movie’s halfway mark. Ever heard of Prozac, Baz?

Before I bid my farewell to this disappointing flick and forever lock it away in my Trunk of Miserable Movie Experiences, let me say that director Baz Luhrmann is a heck of a technical whiz. Some of the shots are spectacular; the transitional scenes are clever and inspiring. Nicole Kidman is breathtakingly beautiful as Satine, the star cancan girl, although I don’t think she and co-star Ewan McGregor can hold a tune.

All I can say is, Thank God for Aspirins.

Baz Luhrmann (director) / Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce (screenplay)
CAST: Nicole Kidman …. Satine
Ewan McGregor …. Christian
John Leguizamo …. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec


Buy Moulin Rouge on DVD