Reel Reviews

Film Reviews by a Real Person, Not a Critic

Moulin Rouge!

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Title: Moulin Rouge!
Year: 2001
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Starring Cast: Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, John Leguizamo
Rated: PG-13

Reel Reviews Rating:

Set in 1900 France, Moulin Rouge is narrated by and focuses on Christian (McGregor), a young, naive, and idealistic writer. Christian comes to Paris to experience the “Bohemian” movement, which emphasizes the film’s motto: freedom, beauty, truth, and love. A strange incident at his apartment leads him to meet the one and only Henri de Toulouse Lautrec (John Leguizamo) and his merry band of actors and writers. They then encourage Christian to ask to work at the Moulin Rouge, the most popular nightclub in the city.

At the Moulin Rouge Christian meets and falls in love with Satine (Kidman), an ambitous singer and the star attraction of the club. Unfortunately, Satine is already promised to the Duke (Richard Roxburgh), a dangerously jealous man who can make Satine’s dreams of becoming an actress come true. Will Satine choose the penniless writer or the wealthy Duke?

I’m going to say it upfront.


So very, very much.

Here’s why.

1.) Baz Lurhmann is an awesome director. The use of lighting, of shadow, and of angles is brilliant.

2.) The sets are fantastic. I watched Lurhmann’s version of Romeo and Juliet several years back and (except for Claire Danes, who looked like a confused dog the whole time) loved it. Loved the directing, loved the sets. It’s so artistic. Perhaps I should praise the cinamatographer instead?

3.) Moulin Rouge is anachronistic in their use of musicals. Some may find it corny or gimmicky, but I think it was really clever to use modern pop music in the musical numbers. The best example is “Elephant Love Medley”, a duet by McGregor and Kidman. Here is a sample lyric.


You’d think that people would have had enough of silly love songs


I look around me and I see it isn’t so, oh no


Some people wanna fill the world with silly love songs


Well, what’s wrong with that, I’d like to know, ’cause here I go…again

Love lifts us up where we belong

Where the eagles fly on a mountain high

4.) It’s funny. Although the overall film is more of a romantic drama, there are many lighthearted moments.

5.) Ewan McGregor is good at whatever role he plays. Since my younger sister is a huge fan and has several movies that feature him, I ended up watching a lot of these films and have realized that he really is a talented actor.

6.) It’s a movie musical not based on any pre-existing live musical. Granted, the plot is based on three operas/operettas (La Boheme, La Traviata, and Orpheus and the Underworld), but at the same time these operas were also based on other stories. But still! It’s one of a kind. How often does that happen these days? I would absolutely LOVE to see this performed live. Too bad though, that you likely won’t have the original cast.

7.) The musical numbers are lots of fun to watch. One of my favorites is Nicole Kidman’s “Sparkling Diamonds”, her version of the Marilyn Monroe classic “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”.

When Moulin Rouge! first came out in 2001, it was like a breath of fresh air in the movie industry. Sure, it was risky. Who the hell watches musicals nowadays? And one that features actors instead of singers? What were they thinking?

Well, Lurhmann’s gamble paid off. Moulin Rouge! went on to win a whole bunch of awards, including Golden Globes for both Kidman and McGregor for Best Actress and Best Actor, Best Director for Lurhman, and Best Original Song for “Come What May”. It’s a shame that it didn’t win for Best Picture. Personally, I liked this film a lot better than Chicago.

If you like musicals, or if you like Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, or if you’re just curious to see what they sound like when they sing, check out Moulin Rouge! I assure you, by the movie’s end, you’ll be humming a couple of the songs from the movie πŸ™‚

Better yet, own it. There are cool easter eggs on the DVD, such as silly antics by the cast during the film’s shooting.

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January 13, 2006 - Posted by | Comedy, Drama, Musical, Romance


  1. I’ll have to consider this one. I’m a Ewan fan and think he’s underrated in the industry. But singing? I can’t imagine. I’ll check it out.

    Comment by Steve, Head Sheep | January 14, 2006 | Reply

  2. I acually liked this movie too , when i heard a Nirvana song in the beginning I couldn’t help but be intrested. Great movie πŸ™‚

    Comment by foo | January 14, 2006 | Reply

  3. Steve- I agree with you in that he’s underrated in Hollywood. But that makes him even cooler πŸ™‚

    foo- I heard that it was unusual for Courtney Love to release the rights to that song to use in this movie, since apparently she guards the licensing to her husband’s music very closely.

    Comment by Toni | January 14, 2006 | Reply

  4. BTW Steve, Moulin Rouge! isn’t the first movie that features a singing McGregor. He also sings a little bit in Emma and A Life Less Ordinary.

    Comment by Toni | January 16, 2006 | Reply

  5. […] After reading a positive review of the third installment of Baz Luhrmann’s Red Curtain Trilogy (Strictly Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet, and Moulin Rouge!), I rented this expecting to view tacky, sexually-charged fluff. After all, it has Nicole Kidman in it. Rail away Kidman fans, but I have always thought of her as mere eye candy and not the stuff of serious theater. […]

    Pingback by Photo Steve » Film Review: Moulin Rouge! | January 16, 2006 | Reply

  6. Here, in Spain, one of our most aclamated critics said that it was a LSD delirious of the director. And I think completly the same.

    Comment by dortame | April 25, 2006 | Reply

  7. It’s definitely not a movie for everyone πŸ™‚

    Comment by toni | April 26, 2006 | Reply

  8. i totaly love the movie and i would’t mind watching it everynow and then,i’m planing to buy myself a copy,the music is the one special thing that makes me want to watch it forever,it is the most romantic love movie i’ve ever watched.

    Comment by zimasa tania bokolo | September 26, 2006 | Reply

  9. Moulin Rouge inspired me to make a film about the true story about Le Petomane, history’s greatest farter. Through various favors and just plain luck (for instance we used the Tower Theater in Los Angeles for our Moulin Rouge and the red curtain in our film is the very one from David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, which he left behind after shooting there) and pulled off $1.2 million in production for about $68k!

    “Le Petomane: Parti Avec le Vent,” features a cast and crew of more than 300 people and is a full-blown, full-costume, turn-of-the-century historical period piece shot at Universal Studios. It has screened at festivals around the world including the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal and the Raintree Film Festival in London. the film received eight nominations including Best Picture from the HD Fest held in New York and Los Angeles.

    Though it’s staged as a “serious” drama, it’s based on the true story of Le Petomane, the flatulist (yes, he passed wind) who became the highest paid entertainer at the Moulin Rouge over 100 years ago, the film is clearly a comedy. It was featured in an LA Times article titled, A Shortcut to Oscar Fame, which underscored its β€œDelicious Absurdity,” and earned a multi-page, multi-picture spread in American Cinematographer, which dubbed it, β€œA Truly Mighty Wind.”

    You can check out the trailer at

    Comment by Steve Ochs | April 28, 2010 | Reply

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