Before I begin this review, I want to make a point: films this summer have been awful. It may be that Moulin Rouge would normally come over as medicocre rubbish, but at the moment it doesn't seem like that to me. Read this review while keeping in mind that it wasn't tombraider / evolotion / planet of the apes / final fantasy.
I knew to expect very pretty pictures and impressive facial hair from the trailers. In fact that was about all I expected, maybe some competant music, but no more. I was wrong. There were certainly stunning visuals... this is what city of lost children would look like with a hollywood budget and a slightly less grim tone. The facial hair was all one could wish for. But the music... its the music which really makes the show. Imagine if you will Jim Broadbent singing 'Like a Virgin', or an indian version of the sound of music, complete with sitar as an interlude to the can can. Actually, no, don't imagine them. Go to the cinema and watch Moulin Rouge - you'll be able to see them (and understand why they make perfect sense. The score is a work of genius - and even when characters ant singing, lyrics of songs fill the dialogue. This may sound corny and terrible - but it works - really really well.
The plot is predictable and telegraphed... but you expect that, and it doesn't matter: I could tell you the entire story and it wouldn't spoil the film one iota. There are a few wonderful lines "I wanted to write about love. But how could I write about love if I had never loved? It was at that point an unconsious argentinian fell through my ceiling". The world needs more lines like that.
I have only a few criticisims - the final act was too theatrical - there had been skillful avoidence of making the film feel like it was taking place on a stage up until then, but in the last act this broke down. I don't know how I would do it differently... but even the music felt weeker in the final act. I also don't think Nichole Kidman's character Satine was well written... it would have been better had the audiance not been sure until maybe well into act 2 that she really loved Obi Wan. It would have been better if the audiance didn't know if she was just acting, or really in love with him - the play within a play would have been a reflection of the writer's interpretation of the sitation and not of 'reality'. Oh well - its a nitpick. Frankly had the story ended up revelling Satine was actually Tim Roth's father so long as it was done with the music and visuals which make the film what it is, noone would care
Oh sod it - I give Moulin Rouge Five different pieces of popular music all seemlessly intgrated with one another out of a possible five. All that and funky facial hair...