Brett (Artpig)’s review published on Letterboxd:
Before I continue with the review, a HUGE thanks for getting me to over 900 followers! SO close to 1,000! I have a really special thing planned for 1,000 and I will have something coming out for 900 very soon, but, in advance, thank you everyone. Now, lets talk about this mess of a movie.
Okay, I was always afraid to watch this because this is my sisters fiance's favorite movie of all time. He's huge into musicals like I am so I thought maybe I would also like it, but, we also disagree on movies like all the time so I kinda had a sneaking suspicion that I wouldn't be a fan of this and yeah, I really wasn't.
I haven't liked a film Baz Luhrmann has done yet. He's not untalented but his way of directing films is so much more style then substance. I hate that cliche when describing a film because I believe that it can be dismissive of the actual theme and talent involved in the film when someone says that because they didn't understand the movie. It's been said about Eraserhead (which I'm personally not a fan of but its certainly got substance) and 2001: A Space Odyssey, which is one of my favorite movies.
That being said, there's no way else I can describe this movie. It feels like someone waving a toy in front of a child to distract them for 2 hours. It's a lot of flash, and dance, and overproduced music and lights and weird accents that's all disgusting a story that at it's core is kinda a weak love story.
The relationship built here is so rushed honestly. This has the same problems as The Greatest Showman, it just hopes that through a few beautiful musical numbers you will end up knowing and caring for the characters, and I honestly didn't.
Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor are great and their song and dance sequences (favorites are Your Song and the Love Melody) are splendid. When this movie went back to the plot however, everything was incredible under written and obnoxious. Every character was so loud and obnoxious with these silly accents. I understand its a hyper realized world but man was it distracting and obnoxious all the time. I really hated the side characters in this, they were never funny. I found a lot of the musical numbers to be kinda over produced like in The Greatest Showman. I couldn't hear everything they were saying and once again it was a lot of fluff to cover a weak screenplay in my opinion.
Luhrmann uses a lot of cross dissolves, panning shots and quick edits to get a sense of style and world which we have seen done so well in the works of Wes Anderson and Edgar Wright. What I believe is missing here however is there actually being a point to them. Wright and Anderson craft their movies in a way to tell the story as effectively as possible and this felt like Luhrmann padding a movie to make it more exciting then it actually is.
I also found the writing to be very weak. A lot of the film will just blatantly tell you what they are trying to achieve instead of showing it and even quote songs to progress a scene along and it feels so incredibly shoe horned in. It feels like something I would have written in Junior High because, "ooh that's one of my favorite songs and I wanna fit it in here." I get the desire to progress the story like that and think it might be able to be done well but here I just found it to be weak storytelling.
That's all I can really say about this, I just wasn't a fan of the final result. I do appreciate what Luhrmann was doing and I honestly see where the cult following of this movie comes from. There are some gorgeous sequences, Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman are great and some beautiful songs scattered throughout, but, with a weak story, lazy writing and irritating characters, this one left me really cold.