This is a wildly imaginitive, intensely visual, vividly colorful rollercoaster ride of a movie. I was constantly surprised and delighted by the sheer chutzpah of director Baz Luhrmann. To combine KISS’ “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” with “The Sound of Music” and about a hundred other (literally) popular tunes and marry them with a stereotypical love tragedy set in Paris in 1900 takes a lot of balls.
To feature stars Ewan MacGregor and Nicole Kidman’s real singing voices on all the dazzling musical numbers does too. Let’s just say that I had fun counting how many times my jaw hit the floor during “Moulin Rouge,” from sumptuous set design to old school slapstick that is very, very funny.
The story itself is absolutely nothing new, but the way it is presented is refreshing and exciting. The editing, set design, art direction, and cinematography are all award-worthy, and it’ll be interesting to see if over-the-top equals Oscar come next spring.
Just because the screenplay follows a familiar pattern does not mean that it isn’t involving, though. In fact, it is the notion of the movie being a musical that allows us to follow and forgive the pitfalls of a formula script. The characters can sing big, sweeping emotion and we can feel it unconditionally. The fact that this all works with other people’s songs (and popular ones at that) just shows there’s more cleverness in the story than first glance.