Friday, August 14, 2009

Moulin Rouge! (2001)

Yes, Moulin Rouge, probably one of the more divisive films in recent memory, forcing people to make stands on the grounds of either loving it or hating it. Me? I kinda loved it, but I kinda hated it.

First, the plot. Christian (Ewan McGregor) is a writer who falls in love with the showgirl/hooker Satine, the leading star at the Moulin Rouge in Paris. They work together on turning the Moulin Rouge from a brightly colored den of large women in giant dresses jumping on people and flashing their panties into a theater with which to perform the musical Christian has wrote and in which Satine will star. Unfortunately, their financial backer, The Duke (He's not given a name), also desires Satine.

Ok, let's get this out of the way, Moulin Rouge is large scale musical that features modern songs such as Smells Like Teen Spirit, Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend, and Like a Virgin, it also has excellent production values with the costumes and sets covering the screen in bright and vibrant colors. This is where a bit of an issue comes out, it's simply too much. Especially in the first third or first half, where the music video style editing and the cheesy sound effects make it appear like you're watching a live-action cartoon. It's during this part that I almost stopped watching the film, because it was way too hard to watch. I suppose it could be a directorial choice to try and make us feel like Christian, being exposed to the razzle dazzle and craziness of the Paraisian night life, but it came at the expense of the watchability of the film.

Fortunately, the actual plot kicks in and everything mellows down and the film turns into a beautifully crafted and ultimately tragic love story (That's not a spoiler, you find out in the first few minutes of the movie that things don't end well). The musical sequences are brilliantly staged and the songs are used to great effect to compliment what is going on in the plot, and the two lead actors are brilliant (not to mention pretty good singers) in their roles. Christian is hopelessly romantic and slightly naive, slowly maturing as his loves deepens for Satine, and Satine herself is slightly world weary and underneath the glam and sex appeal is a fairly sad and lonely woman.

As a whole, the films ultimately leaves a good taste in my mouth, because the second half is just so good (even though the director relies a bit too much on randomly inserting slow motion), and if you can make it through the first half, then hopefully you'll feel the same way I do. Of course, someone could love the first half and become disappointed that the manic tone of the film tapers off and it settles into a more traditional film, so it's really hard to gauge how people may react to the film.

So just watch it so you can love it or hate it, or get mad at me for suggesting you watch it. But regardless of your view on the film, you can't deny that it's a unique one.

1 comment:

  1. Great review!

    I liked so much, in fact. But it's true that this film causes controversy