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Moulin Rouge
Directed by: Baz Luhrmann
Written by: Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, John Leguizamo, Jim Broadbent
Language: English
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Watch it when you’re in the mood for
something: artsy-fartsy, lovey, whimsical 
The critic says: / 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: ½/5

Plot synopsis Aspiring writer Christian arrives in late 1800s Paris in search of bohemian paradise. He soon feels he’s found it when he meets up with a merry little band of artists, among them, painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (who, in director Baz Luhrman’s nutty little universe, is apparently a semi-crazed midget). Toulouse and Co. have resolved to put together a musical, and they’ve decided Christian’s just the person to pen the words. But first, they must find themselves a place to stage the musical … and who better to help them than Harold Zidler, owner of that infamous Parisian nightclub, the Moulin Rouge? Since the surest way to convince Zidler is through his star dancer/courtesan Satine, Toulouse arranges a private meeting between Christian and the beautiful wannabe-actress, so that Christian might dazzle her with his word-wizardry and convince her to get Zidler to stage the musical at the Moulin Rouge. He does, and she does, and naturally, Christian and Satine fall in love. But their romance is complicated by the fact that Zidler has promised Satine to an evil, weaselly Duke, in exchange for the funding of both the musical and a renovation of the Moulin Rouge itself.

Review Moulin Rouge provides a great spectacle and a terrible story. It’s a mixed bag of brilliance and amateurishness, a beautiful, glorious, chaotic mess that I find myself loving and hating all at the same time. The heart of its flaws – and they run deep – lies in the story itself: the movie claims to be a story about love, but it’s one of the most boring, least heartfelt love stories ever depicted on screen. You never quite get why the adorable, earnest Christian, likably played by Ewan McGregor, falls head over heels in love with the shrill, shallow, somewhat manic Satine (Nicole Kidman, at her most thoroughly annoying). Still, eccentric director Baz Luhrman, of Strictly Ballroom fame, nearly pulls it all off, with the sumptuous costuming and fabulously stylized set design -- Satine’s over-the-top elephant penthouse alone is enough to make me swoon -- and the sheer audacity of the way he uses contemporary pop rock favorites, reinterpreting them to suit this story, anachronism be damned. It’s all so fantastic, so stunning, so outrageously spectacular to the senses that it really does come close to blinding you to its failings. Moulin Rouge makes for a fun show -- the likes of which you’ve never seen before even -- but in the end, you can’t help wishing it had offered just a bit more substance, a glimpse of something a little more meaningful beyond that dazzling surface. —reviewed by Y. Sun

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