16 June 2001

Moulin Rouge Splits Genders

A new poll has found that Baz Lurhmann’s MOULIN ROUGE has sparked a rift between the sexes, with women and men split equally for or against the controversial ‘Hollywood on the Harbour’ production. The snap survey of close friends and associates, taken at the weekend, reveals that of those who had actually seen the movie, sisters universally saw Lurhmann as a girl’s best friend, while for the masculine gender, it’s a case of ‘no Can-Can do’, Baz-boy.

Women, without exception, said that they “loved” the film. Some reported “feelings of joy” upon exiting the cinema, others hailed it “a creative triumph.” One Bondi-based IT consultant, who can’t be identified, declared it “the chick flick for a digital generation”. Fellow Bondi resident, Suze, claimed the film’s emphasis on “decoration, singing and dancing, tragic fantasy, and cultivating community” all reflect largely, if not exclusively, “chick aspirations.”

“It’s about the triumph of fashion over formula, of largesse over logic,” said Suze, a media advisor for a public agency. “Watching it was like leafing through the pages of a beautiful magazine.” Jodi, a skincare consultant from Bondi Junction, agreed. “It’s primarily concerned with looking good – and you know I can appreciate that.” Her friend Rachel, a photographic agent from Darlinghurst, declared Rouge “a romp” with canny Scotsman Ewan Macgregor oozing the “it” factor.

“Ewan is so dreamy,” sighed Rachel, prompting a loud scoff from her husband, Andrew. “It’s greatest sin is that it’s just plain boring!” said the self-described “tech-wreck survivor”. Like all the men polled, Andrew rejected the film outright, branding it “rococoesque and shallow”. Geoff, a commercial photographer from Petersham, said he simply failed to suspend disbelief: “The few moments of exhilarating spectacle are dwarfed by a maudlin landscape of overwrought sentimentality."

Josie, who actually works in the film industry, told The Bulletin she copped the full brunt of the emerging gender split first hand. “I walked out calling it visionary and the boy I saw it with ridiculed me for the next two days. “But seriously, putting aside the hype, I think if this film had emerged out of nowhere we'd all be calling it visionary,” Josie added. “And for anyone who grew up in the 1980’s the soundtrack is just fantastic.”

“That’s the problem” countered Alister, a print manager from Summer Hill. "It’s just postmodern pap. It’s got nothing to do with the real, historical Moulin Rouge. There’s no real connection with Paris, or the French, or the Belle Epoque!

“And there’s no CAN-CAN! Lurhmann should hang his head in shame,” Alister exagerated.

The only odd woman out in the poll was Catherine, a TV writer from Surry Hills, who vowed to “never ever” see the film. She blamed the climate of conflicting word of mouth for her indifference.

“I’m getting on with life,” she said. “Barring acts of god, I shan’t be going.”

-MICHAEL HUTAK

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First published in "The Bulletin"

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