The first twenty minutes of this film seem designed to alienate the viewer entirely. Multiple cuts a second, camera refusing to stay still, lights flashing from every angle, John Leguizamo and a bunch of supporting characters bantering in barely understandable accents, green fairies emerging from absinthe bottles and staging an obnoxious dance number—and THEN we travel to the titular Moulin Rouge itself and it becomes pure sensory overload, pounding music and strobing cuts abstracting the sets and costumes into some sort of fever dream. I genuinely felt like I was watching an alien artifact, something hitherto unknown to human experience.
The assault is clear in its intent. Either you acclimate and get on board or you loathe this movie forever. For a while, I didn't know where I was going to fall—it was just all so MUCH and I couldn't process it.
But then, before I realized what was happening, Ewan McGregor (who can sing like a MOTHERFUCKER) and Nicole Kidman were swerving from song to song in a mashup of seemingly every pop number with "love" in its title since 1967, atop a massive elephant with red light and stars shining all around them, as the camera swept around and around their dance, and I. Could. Not. Stop. Smiling.
It's pure excess and bad taste, but WHAT excess! Watched on a pristine 35mm print, and those colors are just something you don't see anymore—especially the rich, saturated reds that dominate the frame. The set design, the models, the costuming, the deliberately chintzy greenscreen elements are all astonishing, a perfect blend of analogue and digital that is in its own way as much the end of an era as The Fellowship of the Ring was less than a year later. Probably peak Ewan and Kidman in terms of both sex appeal and performance—they sell the melodrama with every ounce of energy they have. And while I normally hate jukebox musicals, the self-parodically bombastic orchestration Luhrmann's team applies to every single song lends the proceedings a garish cohesion that that subgenre typically lacks, bringing everything together in a melange of overpowering strings and beats.
On a small screen, this might have put me off entirely. Seen wth a packed audience, on a big screen, it was a kind of magic.
Last edited by Abbie (2020-02-12 05:37:31)