‘Moulin Rouge!’ (2001)
Style over substance strikes me as a good overall description. The hyperactivity and the slightly surreal reality the story is set in create an atmosphere I can’t honestly say I’ve experienced elsewhere.
Dario Argento once called his ‘Suspiria’ (1977) an “assault on the senses”. That describes my thoughts pretty well. My visual and auditory senses were constantly and consistently overpowered. Now, this isn’t a bad thing. I can honestly say I wasn’t for a moment bored.
It seems almost impossible to criticise this movie. If you take the attitude of “just go with it”, don’t stop to question anything and just enjoy the ride and you’ll probably have a good time. It’ll probably be a very “love it or hate it” sorta thing. If you can’t just take it as it comes, you’ll end up hating it.
If I had to complain about something, the story seems fairly simplistic. The characters are mostly two-dimensional archetypes with no real depth or growth, but I’m not sure these are valid criticisms. As I said, style over substance is obviously the intention here. The film is clearly more interested in the world it creates rather than what’s happening in it. As Roger Ebert once said, “It’s not what a movie is about, it’s how it is about it”.
In conclusion: A hyperkinetic assault on the senses. In terms of story, it’s hard to make claims that it’s much of an achievement for the artform, but the atmosphere and the sheer energy on show make it undeniably fun to watch.
[Orginally published March 27th, 2018]