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View from the Back Row

Moulin Rouge: Satine Doll

  Crescent Blues Movie Views

13 rated, one moon icon
In Paris, circa 1900, Satine (Nicole Kidman) works her tail off at the Moulin Rouge. Her job as lead dancer and head courtesan allows her to kick up her heels on stage and kick off her heels backstage. And Zidler, owner and manager in charge of debauchery at this adult entertainment club, couldn't be more pleased. They make their money the old fashioned way -- by turning tricks and selling sin.

But Zidler dreams of turning the Moulin Rouge into a legitimate theater, and Satine dreams of turning herself into a legitimate actress. They just need a wealthy backer, a great cast and a talented writer to set the wheels in motion.

Enter Christian (Ewan McGregor), writer and spontaneous verse dispenser. He can make a rhyme anytime. And Zidler, recognizing Christian's brilliant knack for wordsmithing, immediately enlists him to help write a new play.

Christian quickly falls in love with Satine. And who can blame him? Beautiful Satine, easy to talk to, nice to look at and willing to extend credit, puts the pro in prostitute. The two lovers revel in the moment. But all goes not well. The new backer, a rich duke from a distant province, agrees to back the play if Satine will agree to forsake all others and become his private concubine.

Actors know sacrifices must be made; the show must go on. So Satine, no stranger to the whims of the casting couch, reluctantly agrees to this convoluted association. However, she continues to diddle around with Christian on the sly.

The Duke, suspecting the presence of a horny interloper, intimidates Zidler with threats of withdrawing financial support. Zidler then threatens Satine with closing the theater. And Satine, now forced to choose between love and money, considers giving Christian the heave-ho. The conflict continues to grow as Christian realizes he can no longer share Satine with other men. Can he convince her to leave the business and devote her total effort to a penniless writer? Or will she stay with the rich Duke?

As old as the oldest profession, this story rehashes the ancient plight of man and woman, the never ending contest between love and money, and the unanswerable question of life and death. And it rehashes all this under a continuous production of song and dance.

While the novelty, the sparkle, the glitter, and the colorful production numbers captivate the viewer throughout most of the story, it gets a little tiring near the end. I still liked it, so I give it a "B-."

Dixie says: It's about love. It's about beauty. It's about two and a quarter hours. This surreal musical features some new tunes, some old tunes, and a well represented mixture of old movie hits and classic rock songs. However, the artsy-fartsy filming technique strobe-lights from scene to scene so fast some viewers may get a popcorn headache. But while it hardly compares with Singing In the Rain, it certainly presents some lavish visual images. I give it a "B" for beautiful.

Don & Dixie Mitchell

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