Excessive, experimental, energetic, extravagant, explosive, emotional and exquisite. A few words to describe the latest spectacle from cinematic wizard of Oz Baz Luhrmann; the man responsible for making ballroom dancing and the Bard chic again.
Set at the turn of the 20th Century Moulin Rouge tells the tale of a young naïve writer/poet Christian (McGregor) who goes to Paris - the den of iniquity according to his father - to live the Bohemian ideals of "truth, beauty, freedom but above all...love".
Settling the infamous Monmartre district of Paris he finds himself thrust into the Bohemian lifestyle suddenly as an Absinthe-soaked acting troop led by the diminutive Toulouse Lautrec (John Leguizamo) falls into his lap - or rather through his ceiling - while rehearsing a play.
Seems they are having some trouble with a narcoleptic leading man and the lyrics for their new bohemian opus; Christian is just the man to help with both - with a little help from Rodgers and Hammerstein.
The group want Harold Zidler (Jim Broadbent) owner and puppet master of the Moulin Rouge to stage their play in his nightclub, the decedent fin-de-siècle melting pot where "the rich and powerful come to play with the beautiful creatures of the underworld".
The Moulin Rouge is a mind-blowing, fantastical, gaudy world of chaos, sex, drugs, passion and spectacle. There he meets its star, the city's most sought after courtesan; the beautiful Satine (Kidman) making what has to be one of the best entrances in a film.
The duo fall in love. But someone else coverts Satine, the malevolent Duke of Monroth (Richard Roxburgh) who also happens to be Zidler's prospective financier.
So the idealistic writer is drawn into an Orphean quest to save his love from the underworld.
The story is a simple and romantic one as Christian and Satine embark upon a passionate, yet tragic affair. Love against the odds, the tragic heroine and the Orphean myth of saving a lover from 'hell' are instantly recognisable and not exactly new. No, it is in interpretation that Moulin Rouge excels.
It is a gloriously tongue-in-cheek, discombobulating assault on the senses.
Christian and Satine's affair is captured in euphoric high style. Luhrmann and production designer Catherine Martin have created a hyper-real world that the real Moulin Rouge could never hope to compete with.
It's a dazzling, operatic, Technicolor fantasy which grabs the attention from the start when the screen is framed as a red curtain, replete with conductor.
Luhrmann never lets the audience forget this is a theatrical experience: actors rise into the night sky; the heavens explode showering them in stardust, and the camera moves like a hyperactive bird of prey as it wheels, cuts and swoops down on the action at break-neck speed.
It is also an all singing, all dancing musical. Luhrmann and musical director Marius De Vries raid the history of popular music and completely reinvent it. From Nat King Cole to Nirvana, David Bowie to Madonna, Queen to U2, they do it with style and conviction.
On paper this could, and should be rather silly, the two leads look into each others eyes and quote Elton John's 'Your Song' as if it were a Shakespearean sonnet. But it's not silly here, the characters are sincere and totally believable.
One of the reasons Moulin Rouge succeeds is because of a superb, convincing cast - who all sing very well.
McGregor is excellent as the wide-eyed innocent who goes through a baptism of fire in the bawdy underworld to emerge a stronger, more worldly writer.
Kidman is radiant as the "sparkling diamond" of the Moulin Rouge who wears strength as a mask to cover her desire to become a great stage actress. She too is changed as she come to realise some things just cannot be sacrificed for monetary gain.
The supporting cast are wonderful, providing a camp circus of colour and life, particularly Jim Broadbent whose rendition of Madonna's 'Like a Virgin' must be one of the most weirdly hilarious moments in cinema.
Moulin Rouge will not appeal to everyone. It is operatic by intention and excessive by design and viewers will either love it madly or hate it with a passion.
But in a depressing year in which Hollywood has churned out some of the most awful, unimaginative rubbish and loosely cobbled on a 'blockbuster' tag, thank God that there are still films being made which make you aware of the possibilities of contemporary cinema and make you remember why you love it in the first place.