ASA BUTTERFIELD CHLOE GRACE MORETZ SACHA BARON COHEN BEN KINGSLEY
CHIRSTOPHER LEE EMILY MORTIMER HELEN MCCROY RICHARD GRIFFITHS and JUDE LAW
Hugo is a very interesting film directed by the legend Martin Scorsese himself. Hugo advertises itself as a kids or family film; however, I think this type of story and artistry will only appeal to very sophisticated upper middle class children and families. It does seem strange that Scorsese would do this kind of film, but his beautiful touches make this an extraordinary movie to look at. He was encouraged by his own children to develop this film and I think, while the typical slow development of a Scorsese story might bore most children who have been conditioned by their parents to turn their brain off while watching the latest Disney retardation, for others looking for a challenge, Hugo will prove stimulating.
Hugo Cabret (Butterfield) is a young French boy who has been orphaned by the sudden death of his father (Law). Hugo was taught by his drunk uncle how to keep up all the clocks in the train station. After his uncle’s disappearance, young Hugo has stuck to his entrusted job. Stealing food to survive, no one seems to appreciate the fact that all the elaborate clocks are always on time. Hugo is caught trying to steal mechanical parts from a toymaker (Kingsley) inside the station. The grumpy old man takes Hugo’s notebook, which contains instructions on how to fix a very special object he has hidden away, an object that brings great sorrow to the old man when he sees the notebook. Hugo must get his book back and figure out how his object is related to the toymaker.
When we think of a young boy driving the plot of a film, it automatically suggests the film is for children or families. Martin Scorsese seems to challenge that notion, banking on the fact that families will fall for the trick and be introduced to a world they weren’t prepared for. His previous film, Shutter Island, was somewhat of a disappointment. I admire Scorsese’s work and longevity in the industry, but he certainly isn’t without many faulty films. Hugo works on a sliding scale; it’s beautiful and very intricate, however, it’s nowhere near a masterpiece or even one of the best films of the year. It’s touching, adventurous and, surprisingly, a film about the celebration of cinema.
The casting here is nicely done, although unexpected. Who would have ever expected to see Sauron (Lee) from The Lord of the Rings in the same film with Borat (Cohen)? Both of the younger actors, Butterfield (Nanny Mcphee, The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas) and Moretz (Kick Ass, Let Me In) do fine work. Oscar winner Ben Kingsley, who worked with Scorsese in Shutter Island, is the main course as far as performances go for this film. The opening scene of the film is easily one of the best uses of 3D I have seen all year long; Scorsese uses it as an accent, not a focal point. Both of the children in the film strive to find their purpose in life, which becomes the theme of the story. “Like people, if you lose your purpose you are broken”.
Final Thought – A beautiful adventure that celebrates the love of cinema.
By: Dustin Chase W.
Editor: Michael Woody
Dr. Donna Copeland’s
This film is a work of art from beginning to end, including a nuanced story with full dimensional characters, an intriguing mystery, and a striking palette full of warm colors that suggest a previous age, and artistic shots of machinery in action. The book upon which it is based (The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick) is remarkable in itself. It is the story of the early filmmaker Georges Melius, and his vision for film. He said that “if our dreams are big enough, anything is possible”, and that in a nutshell is the crux of the film Hugo.
The viewer is immediately drawn toward Hugo, a boy of the streets, convincingly played by Asa Butterfield. He is a marvel climbing among the intricate clock works at the train station—winding them and maintaining them—to keep them all running on time. Newly orphaned after his watchmaker father is accidentally burned in a museum fire, Hugo is trying to survive on his own and avoid the orphanage. After stumbling upon the automaton his father was working on when he died, Hugo’s dream is to complete the task. It helps to know that in the beginning, films were often made by magicians who were fascinated with automatons and used them in their shows. The film tells the story of how this young boy’s dream of becoming a magician connects him with Georges Melius, one of the earliest filmmakers in France.
This is also a parable about friendship and the importance of a sense of belonging for a child. As is often typical of children, Hugo does not easily come forth with his history and his reasons for what he does. Fortunately, he gets the attention of a girl who is in a position to help him. She forces him to talk about himself, and the two together make amazing connections that lead to fundamental truths about identity and friendship, and about life itself.
Few movies for children come through for them in such broad strokes of delight and entertainment, inspiration for achievement, and emotional truths. I do hope Martin Scorses, the director, receives an Oscar nomination for this work.