Movie reviews: “Moulin Rouge”

Critics who often exhort filmmakers to be more daring have generally concluded that director Baz Luhrmann energetically did so with Moulin Rouge but often with dire results. “This is a flabbergasting piece of work, nakedly out there, willing to risk looking foolish because it is so in love with the head-turning possibilities of the film medium. And, inevitably, foolish is what it sometimes looks,” comments Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times. “A bold attempt to resuscitate the movie musical, Moulin Rouge is a sometimes glorious, sometimes disastrous folly,” writes Jonathan Foreman in the New York Post. Elvis Mitchell in the New York Times concludes: “This movie is simultaneously stirring and dispiriting … Mr. Luhrmann‘s directing style is almost a brand of obsessive-compulsive disorder. He has too much to say and grows faint over the prospect of getting all of the thoughts and ideas and words and production numbers out of his head.” Similarly, Bob Strauss in the Los Angeles Daily News finds the movie to be “undeniably lovely. Every frame of it is clever (often too, by half). It’s certainly energetic/exhausting,” but Strauss concludes that it is “overwrought with design elements and fast cuts.” The Wall Street Journal‘s Joe Morgenstern writes that since watching the movie, “I’ve been doing the can’t-can’t. Can’t believe the spectacular craziness of what I saw, can’t convey the full folly of this opulent, gleefully decadent phantasmagoria.” But Jack Mathews in the New York Daily News concludes that despite its shortcomings, Moulin Rouge is a rouge-hot success. The film, he writes, “is an audacious, snappy visual and emotional feast of dishes both familiar and fresh. It’s the first really good movie of 2001.”