If a feeling is too intense to put into words, then put it into song. That’s an artistic mandate that applied for millennia to all forms of drama (Greek tragedy, Italian opera, Hollywood movies), though later audiences found it laughably peculiar. Leave it to Baz Luhrmann, the unreconstructed Aussie romantic who infused Shakespeare with an urban urgency in Romeo + Juliet, to go both retro and now-tro in a musical that blends MGM and MTV. It’s a convulsive love story daubed in a giddily gaudy palette, with the never-prettier Nicole Kidman entrancing hunkily soulful Ewan McGregor in an orgasmic swirl of color, design and pop music. Wearing its soft heart on its fancily embroidered sleeve, Moulin Rouge! brought love stories back in fashion — though in the debased form of films from Nicholas Sparks novels — and cued the sporadic revival of musical movies and TV shows (Mamma Mia!, Hairspray, Glee). In the age of media cool, this recklessly amorous burst of kinetic excess offended cooler sensibilities even as it launched other viewers, including this one, into rapture. The movie asks, Moulin Rouge-ez avec moi ce soir? I say, Sure. All night long.
Next Devdas, 2002