Sunday, August 13, 2006

#14 (Male Performances in Review 2000-2004)

*Spoiler Warning*
There is one scene in Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge! that is so overwhelmingly sorrowful that it has me looking away every time I watch it (it is simply too painful to absorb fully). This is, of course, towards the end of the film when Ewan McGregor's Christian embraces the body of his just-deceased lover Satine (Nicole Kidman), looks up towards heaven, and emits a guttural, grief-stricken sob. The sound gives me shivers down my spine every time, and I almost feel as though my presence in the scene is intrusive. It is almost as if such a moment of horrific tragedy is not intended for my eyes; it is too personal, too private. And yet, I thank the cinema gods when I am lucky enough to encounter scenes that affect me so tremendously. It is impossible to think of this film without McGregor in the lead role, who is so committed and passionate writing his love story (both in in his life and on paper) that you cannot help but fall hopelesly in love with him. The moment he meets Satine, the most popular performer at the Moulin Rouge, he pursues her unapologetically despite the fact he is a penniless writer with nothing material to offer her. His hook? Love. It is enough, he argues, to keep them content and together ("I will love you until my dying day.") Credit must be given to McGregor, who sells not only Satine on this, but us as well; it is impossible not to believe him when such earnesty and devotion sparkle and dance in his eyes. When he insists "All you need is love!" to a flustered Kidman, it suddenly makes perfect and total sense (if only real life were that simple). To watch McGregor here is to experience pure joy; I find that I have a big goofy smile plastered on my face every time he breaks into song or tries to make Satine laugh. This is a fearless, sexy and emotionally naked performance, one of those rarities that we must acknowledge and cherish because they only come along once in a (singing?) blue moon.


DL said...

Yes, yes, yes! Such a...delightful performance. I get butterflies (the good kind) every time I hear him sing the Elephant Love Medley.

And when he sings "Your Song".

And "Come What May".

Ali said...

I know what you mean re: butterflies. I really wish I could have found room for him in the top ten.

JavierAG said...

God, yes. It helps that in general, Ewan's one of our most enjoyable working actors.

PS: Should I expect DiCraprio to show up at #13? :P

Nick M. said...

I've said it many times before and I'm not holding back now:

His performance far surpassed Kidman's. He injects all the kitsch, vulnerability and heart that this performance demands. Oh, and his pipes aren't so bad, either.