FEATURE: “Visually Stunning,” Beautifully Constructed,” Etc., Etc.

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?Moulin Rouge?Twentieth Century FoxDirected by Baz LuhrmannProduced by Martin Brown, Baz Luhrmann and Fred BaronScreenplay by Baz Luhrmann and Craig PearceStarring Ewan McGregor and Nicole KidmanRating: PG-133 (out of four)?Moulin Rouge? never lacks variety. Sometimes it feels like an MTV music video, sometimes like a vaudeville show, and still other times like a Disney musical on LSD.

In keeping with his extravagant, self-named ?Red Curtain? style, director Baz Luhrmann held nothing back in his latest film.

Set in Paris in 1899, the story follows a young man named Christian (Ewan McGregor) and his quest to become a famous writer. He wants to write about all the bohemian ideals: truth, beauty, freedom and love.

The only thing standing in his way is the fact that he?s never been in love. That?s where Satine (Nicole Kidman) enters.

Satine is the ?Sparkling Diamond? of the Moulin Rouge and a famous courtesan of the city.

Her dream to become a stage actress leads her to seduce a rich duke who can fund the club?s transformation to a theatre. Along the way, however, she falls in love with Christian.

This classic story of a woman caught between the man who can give her everything and the man she really loves results in a tragic comedy attempting to reach Shakespearean proportions.

Despite the film?s constant insistence that ?this is a story about love,? the plotline is actually inconsequential in comparison to the stylized visual effects.

The underground world of ?Moulin Rouge? that Luhrmann creates drenches the senses with lights, colors, music and dance.

He calls the film a ?visual feast,? which is a fairly accurate description. The only problem is that at times the gluttony can leave a person feeling slightly bloated.

Perhaps one reason this happens is because the sensuous, eccentric feel of Luhrmann?s two previous films, ?Strictly Ballroom? and ?William Shakespeare?s Romeo and Juliet,? is pushed to its limits in ?Moulin Rouge.?

To exemplify this, he opens the film with a shot of a theatre proscenium and a conductor in front of a giant, red curtain.

This is an obvious reference to the ?Red Curtain? style he created, and it sets up the film as a theatrical spectacle. Like the conductor, Luhrmann directs with a frenzied enthusiasm.

One of the characteristics of Luhrmann?s ?Red Curtain? style is the formula that all his films use: He begins with a simple story, sets it in a heightened world and then adds a unique storytelling technique.

In ?Strictly Ballroom,? he tells the story through dance; in ?William Shakespeare?s Romeo and Juliet,? he uses the original dialogue of the Elizabethan writer; and in ?Moulin Rouge,? the characters sing much of their dialogue.

Luhrmann?s idea to reinvent the musical is both intriguing and disconcerting.

Two refreshing variations he has made on the traditional musical are his use of actors who are not well-known for their singing and his choice of songs that are motivated by the storyline rather than tacked on.

Luhrmann?s use of songs by modern artists, ranging from Madonna to Nirvana to Elton John, is what may throw some people off. Like any new technique, it can be bizarre and even jarring at times.

But that?s exactly the effect Luhrmann strives to create.

The film is full of anachronisms, hackneyed dialogue, obvious symbols, familiar gags and predictable characters. All of these elements, in combination with the singing, constantly remind the audience that they are watching a film.

?Moulin Rouge? lays bare all of its ploys. It puts its arm around you and whispers in your ear, ?We both know you?re watching a film and that you?ve seen much of this before, so go ahead and let yourself enjoy it.?

Despite, or perhaps because of, Luhrmann?s interesting techniques, the film works. It?s even worth seeing again?but only after some ample time to digest.

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