Hugo

8 Apr

Director: Martin Scorsese

Writers: John Logan (screenplay), Brian Selznick (book)

Stars: Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz and Christopher Lee

Motion Picture Rating: PG

Runtime: 126 minutes

 

 

 

 

Martin Scorsese is a part-time film historian and a full-time film devotee. When interviewed about his own films he often references past masters and he talks in awe and wonder about his first cinema going experiences as a child. With Hugo we have both a referential history lesson about cinema and an awe-inspiring film filled with warmth, love and care for the medium. This is a love letter to film by a great master.

Hugo is the story of a young orphaned boy who lives alone in the Gard du Nord train station in Paris in the 1920’s. This film is adapted from a popular children’s book (“The Invention of Hugo Cabret”) and it is a rich story of boyhood adventure. Hugo’s dead father was a clock-maker and his uncle set the clocks around the station before disappearing. That role now falls to Hugo who lives and roams in the back rooms, crawl spaces and hidden passages of the station. The opening shots of the film trail Hugo around Gard du Nord and it is breath-taking cinematography. The film conjures up a bustling and fascinating ‘playground’ for lonely Hugo.

The sweeping camera shots and the sepia-tinted sets add grandeur and a sense of nostalgia. It is in keeping with the 1920’s period and it supports the ‘history of cinema’ sub-plot. That strand is headed by Ben Kingsley (revealed to be Georges Melies) as a shop owner in the train concourse that takes an interest in Hugo. It was Melies that followed the Lumiere brothers in Paris from the 1890’s to invent cinema as we know it today.

Kingsley is excellent and well supported by Asa Butterfield as Hugo and Chloe Grace Moretz as his niece and Hugo’s only friend. Sacha Baron Cohen hams it up nicely as the station inspector and other British character actors pop up here and there. It’s a good ensemble, but the film succeeds because of the enchanting story and the beautiful camera work. It reminded me in parts of Amelie and that is high praise where I come from. This is a terrific family film and highly recommended.

One Response to “Hugo”

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  1. Hugo : An ode to Cinema « Life in Technicolor - May 7, 2012

    […] Hugo (smallscreenreviews.com) […]

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