Truth, beauty, freedom, and love: these were the ideals of the Bohemian revolution (a prequel to the Hippie Era) that began at the end of the 1800's. Fleeing the constraints of a moral society, adventurous or disgraced socialites, artists, writers, and rebellious sons of the European middle-class made their way to a seedy suburb of Paris and a naughty nightclub named after its trademark red windmill--the Moulin Rouge.
The fictitious Christian (Ewan McGregor), is a young writer who pursues his career in the ill reputed neighborhood. Lending his creative talent to his neighbors' efforts to write a musical show, Christian is selected to convince Satine (Nichol Kidman), star of the Moulin Rouge, to play the lead so they can sell the concept to Zidler (Jim Broadbent), the club's owner. But Zidler has other plans for the coveted courtesan (a polite name for prostitute with an upscale clientele) whom he's promised to the Duke (Richard Roxburgh) in exchange for financial support. When introductions turn into mistaken identities, the results are sexual innuendo, falling in love with the wrong man, a gun chase and... a rock musical?
Like a jukebox with a short circuit, Director Baz Luhrmann creates song, dance, and dialogue by piecing together over thirty popular songs from the twentieth century. His quirky anachronisms range from The Sound Of Music to Like A Virgin, and induce a feeling of deja vu.
Meanwhile the love triangle is played against a continual burlesque show of garish carnival characters, gaudy lingerie-clad women, close-ups of CanCan dancers' pelvic action, depictions of alcohol and drug use (including Absinthe - a popular bohemian hallucinogenic beverage), prostitutes, cross-dressers, and abundant sexual banter.
Although the film "can can" show beauty exchanged for sensuality, love reduced to prostitution, bohemian freedom trapping Satine into longingly singing "One Day I'll Fly Away," and the bitter truth: "Don't fall in love with a woman who sells herself- it always ends bad," young sentimental viewers may miss these messages in the movie's romantic music and hypnotic elements. Parents concerned about the abundant sexual content should say "don't don't " to Moulin Rouge.