Hi folks, Joel here with a review for Martin Scorsese’s much hyped Hugo,
Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen and Asa Butterfield
Running time: 126 minutes
Age restriction: PG
Genre: Adventure, Family
Martin Scorsese and family entertainment in one sentence is something hard to swallow, if anything for the fact that we associate his work with ultra violence and deep narrative – elements that aren’t typically found in the PG. But, just like his adoption of 3D, this is something that sceptics had to put to bed and simply imagine the possibilities. In short, the tale of Hugo Cabret, the boy who was “built” to fix things, is nothing short of magical. Let this be known that this is not Scorsese reinventing himself, this is just a craftsman fully exploring his workshop, tinkering with the possibilities that can and may be. While Hugo may be some uncharted sea of dreams, Scorsese is also exploring his love of film and in the end that is exactly what this sensitively constructed work of fantasy (and truth) turns out to be.
Hugo (Asa Butterfield), an orphan living in a Parisian train station spends his time painstakingly repairing a clockwork automaton that his father (Jude Law) worked on restoring before an untimely death. Finding the parts he needs however can be a challenge – a challenge that often leads him to the toy store of Georges Méliès, a mysterious older man who spends his days constructing mechanical playthings in his little train station booth. After George catches Hugo red-handed, the young tinkerer now owes a debt to the moustachioed gent and so begins the journey of Hugo and his quest to solve the secret behind the odd mechanical man and hopefully find a connection between the robot and his father.
Under all the visual prowess though is a story played out by actors…actors both young and old that take their roles under a severity that isn’t usually seen. The acting itself seems hardly like that suited to the common sensibilities of modern day motion pictures – there’s a theatricality to it, an over-extension into an arena that demands a physical, vocal presence – not campy, more of de-evolution into character archetypes with both subtle responses and enough emotional strength to tug on the heart-strings in large and unwavering bounds.
Young Butterfield plays the perfect not-so-innocent but innocent enough child, both naïve and a wiseman with experience beyond his years. Kingsley of course is like liquid gold to behold and portrays his charmingly bitter old-timer with an enormous emotional scope that just reaches out to you like a septuagenarian clutching his ankle-biter of a grandchild as though he’ll never see them again. The two together make magic of their own and it’s this union along with the darling antics of Chloe Moretz and the slapstick bumblings of the Sasha Baron Cohen’s crippled officer who form the hive of interesting characters that populate the station that tie the act together.
Still, the architect of this tale is entirely Scorsese – his tireless and unabashed devotion to the medium makes this film as much about heritage as it is about the joy of dreaming. As a self-professed film historian it’s understandable that he would want throw a hand out to how it all began and origin story that is riddled with obscurity and technicality is instead simplified, dramatised, and brought to life in vivid colour and passion that sacrifices on what the boring stuff and gives a film that has a heart and soul.
Hugo deserves all this praise and more and if anything, shows the public that the potential for using 3D as a directors tool is there and what we witness once donning those cheap plastic frames is nothing short of the most organic use of stereoscopy that I have ever bared witness to…in fact it may be a sensation that it is never to be repeated to this degree. Not only would I recommend that you watch this film in its intended format, it should be a requirement and that’s saying a lot from a faithful viewer who traditionally faults a film to the nth degree on poor usage of 3D.
Everyone should see this without question. However (yes there always is one), kids younger than 10 might not be as enamoured with the history of film as much as the more trained cine-jockeys out there. Hugo is relatively long for a PG rated film so if you feel that your kids or nephews etc. might be a little ADD, let the sitter take care of them and treat yourself for a night out – it can be enjoyed alone and in large groups.
The Bottom Line
It may have taken a while before Scorsese to release his first family oriented film but it’s a case of better late than never. It’s not often that you can see the evidence of a director’s love for his creation but Hugo is different, it has been lovingly crafted and moulded into a brilliant masterpiece of cinema that is not only dedicated to the medium but is also a testament to the intense bond that it shares with the audience and our silently tangible applause.