Mike Torchic’s review published on Letterboxd:
Let me put this out there, I don't like Baz Luhrmann as a filmmaker. I'm pretty sure he's a fine guy and all, it's just that his films are not my particular taste. Moulin Rouge is no exception to this and despite most everyone else praising it, I think it's a loud, obnoxious, pretentious and downright bad film.
The plot takes place in Bohemian era France and focuses on Christian, a writer who decides to write about the past year he had. At the center of these events is the Moulin Rouge, an extravagant nightclub where many upperclassman go. While posing as a duke Christian meets Satine (comment when you get it), the main star of the nightclub. Her ultimate goal is to be an actress and she takes an interest in Christian. Along with many supporting characters, the Moulin Rouge puts on a play. This film mostly focuses on the behind the scenes of the production as well as the struggles of putting on this play. I didn't like the plot of this film at all. Despite everything that happens, it always goes back to the words love. Everything is centered on that one word. Christian and Satine love each other, Ziddler loves his theater and the duke loves Satine as well. This concept of everything relating to love has been done many times and it felt to me like nothing was new. The film makes it out to be that the most important thing in the film is love. Another thing I wasn't sold on was the use of pop songs as dialogue, let alone them being in the film at all. Just like one of Luhrmann's other films Romeo + Juliet which uses most of the original Shakespearian dialogue in a modern setting, it just doesn't fit. While I was liking the atmosphere in the film at first, once the pop songs started I lost interest quick. I would've preferred it to stick with the atmosphere of the film. I wouldn't say that the plot of this film was genetic, but you know the ending at the beginning of the film. In voiceover, Christian EXPLICITLY TELLS YOU THE ENDING OF THIS FILM! You see it coming from many miles away and once it happens you feel no emotion for these characters. Speaking of the characters, they're are extremely over the top, with the exception of Christian. He was the only one I could tolerate out of all of them. Even Satine, Christians love interest, disinterested me at points because of his eccentric behavior. That's how I'd characterize all the characters, eccentric. Ziddler is way over the top, but I have to admit I liked the "Like a Virgin" scene. The Duke was a villain straight out of a cartoon, mustache and all. And speaking of character, they're given little development. The most developed by far are Christian and Satine, but not enough for you to get emotionally attached to them. All the other characters like Ziddler and the Duke you can't get behind because they're so poorly developed.
The cast does alright with their performances. Ewan McGregor was the standout for me as Christian, a writer recounting his past year at the Moulin Rouge. He does the best out of everyone and seems the most "sane" out of the cast. He's not given much in terms of development, but does his best with what he's given. I almost liked Nicole Kidman as Satine, the nightclub performer who wants to become an actress. Sure she's beautiful and all, but her character is very unlikeable as well as eccentric at points. All this made it hard for me to get behind her character, especially in the more emotional scenes. Jim Broadbent is over the top and unlikeable as Harold Ziddler, the owner of the titular Moulin Rouge. While I normally like Broadbent with him being great in Cloud Atlas, I wasn't too fond of him in this film. That being said, I did get a few chuckles In during the Like a Virgin scene. Don't even get me started on Richard Roxburgh as the duke. I absolutely despised him in this film. His performance is straight out of a Saturday morning cartoon. He's extremely unlikeable as a character and as a villain.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, I don't like Baz Luhrmann as a filmmaker. His films are just not my style and this is no exception. While I do commend him for his vision, I don't think it was executed all that well. The film is very grandiose in scope that it was destined to fail at some points. I was on board with this film in the beginning, but after the 5 minute mark when the Unconscious Argentinian was introduced I was slightly less on board until I wanted to turn it off. Some scenes felt like a live action cartoon, sound effects and all. The editing of this film is so hyperactive that you don't get to appreciate some of the cinematography, especially with big party scenes in the Moulin Rouge. During the CanCan scene in particular I was disappointed because all of this skilled choreography and cinematography was absolutely Butchered in the editing room. This film, for the most part, holds up well for 2016 which was a good thing.
The music by Craig Armstrong was my favorite part about the film. If it's one thing this film got right, it was the score and I'm not talking about the covers of pop songs. It's so mysterious and melodic that it complimented the film very well. As for the covers of pop songs, I was less thrilled. Any movie that butchers Smells Like Teen Spirit has done a disservice. The Elephant Love Medley in particular takes snippets from great songs and tries to force them into one song in which the only good thing was the singing by Kidman and McGregor.
Overall, Moulin Rouge is a bad film with annoying Characters, a generic plot and an ending you see from a mile away. I would stay away from this film at all costs.