Moulin Rouge opens with a Burtonesque view of Paris in gray tones. That doesn't last long, though. Director Baz Luhrmann, a visual fiend, soon thrusts us into a world of swirling color, motion, and sound. This is certainly the most vibrant and energetic musical I have seen in years.
The visual colorfest and relentlessly fast tempo contrast with Alan Parker's Evita, but the story is similiarly (and unabashedly) sentimental, and like Madonna as Evita, Nicole Kidman so passionately goes after the role of Satine that her less-than-opera-quality voice doesn't seem to matter.
To extend the Evita comparisons, as did Antonio Banderas, so Ewan McGregor holds his own here and could even be seen as a scene-stealer despite the flamboyant female lead. Flamboyant sums the movie up...or maybe shameless, such as the ruthless blending of music from the last three decades. Some may find that tacky. I found it rather fun, and occasionally it struck an emotional chord with me, such as the use of Queen's "The Show Must Go On," which many may remember as one of Freddie Mercury's last songs.
The characters weren't the best developed, but after all, it's a musical. I thought the story was sweet and sad.
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Copyright 2002 by Toby Baldwin
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Click here for a review of the soundtrack.