Watching it again it struck me how great the ancillary cast is in this film. McGregor and Kidman are great as the leads, but it’s the supporting players who really make the film work. Roxburgh and Broadbent in particular are absolutely fantastic at balancing the broadness of their roles with genuine menace and emotion. Roxburgh in particular is my MVP for this film, he’s deliciously slimy, utterly hysterical at times and insanely menacing when he needs to be. He’s playing it exceptionally broad, but it actually ends up working within the confines of the film. I also kind of love how likeable Broadbent makes Zidler. It would have been easy to play the character as kind of money hungry, but you get a real sense of how much he cares for Satine and his performers. He’s pretty much conflicted the entire runtime of the film, but he never comes across as antagonistic.
The rest of the cast bring various levels of competence, but they’re all at least engaged by the material. Everyone seems to understand the tone of the piece and as such it all coalesces together really well.
This actually isn’t my favourite Luhrman film, I marginally prefer Romeo + Juliet, but I think it’s definitely his best work. It just crackles with energy and manages to perfectly balance the competing tones the film requires. I also love how each of the musical numbers seems to take its inspiration from different sources. The Can Can is pretty much a music video, but The Show Must Go On is staged like a Puccini number, whilst El Tango De Roxanne starts out like a Bob Fosse coordinated musical and morphs into something far more operatic. It’s a film that wears its heart on its sleeve, but it’s also surprisingly cynical. In particular its ending seems to suggest that the notions of true love have destroyed far more than they’ve helped.
Also gotta say that the Blu-Ray to this is stunning, the colours are just insane at times.