There cannot be many people more in love with cinema that Martin Scorsese. During his extensive career has used his personal point of view and his passion for film history to create some of the best, entertaining and original movies in living memory. Frequent changes in subject, settings and style has had Mr Scorsese feted as one greatest directors in Hollywood history. When it was announced that his latest project was to be an adaptation of a children’s book and would be filmed in 3D, eyebrows were raised within the film community. How could a successful transition be made from the award winning crime drama, The Departed, to Hugo. Would it be another triumph or a serious mis-step for the great director?
The story revolves around the central character, a boy called Hugo (Asa Butterfield). Orphaned at a young age, Hugo lives and works in a grand train station located in the centre of Paris. His job is to maintain the all of clocks in the station. These extensive duties take up the majority of his day. Any spare time he has is spent fixing a broken automaton. The mechanical man is the only thing that Hugo has left to remind him of his late father (Jude Law). It was their personal project to fix the device. Hugo is now convinced that by repairing it he will be delivered a message from his father. To get parts for the repair he scavenges and sometimes steals parts from an old toy maker, Papa George (Ben Kingsley), who has a small shop in the train station. During a ‘visit’ to the shop Hugo is caught. His notebook with all his automaton work in it is confiscated by George. To try to get this notebook back Hugo agrees to work in the shop. Befriending George’s grand-daughter, Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz), Hugo embarks on a journey of discovery that leads to some most unexpected outcomes. Along the way a bond is formed between George, Hugo and Isabelle who literally holds the key to a successful outcome.
I loved this film. I caught it at the GFT, Glasgow at their Saturday morning take 2 presentation. The cinema was
full of children and it was a real surprise that a normally boisterous audience were totally silent and absorbed
for all of the two-hour run time. That more than anything else proved to me the success of the film. The opening scene immediately draws you in to the world. A fantastic continuous shot travelling through snowy Paris, swooping into the train station along a platform and on t the main concourse, resting on the grand clock and revealing the face of Hugo inside. A dramatic opening and a bold statement of intent.
The 3D works very well here. Every shot has been painstakingly created. The 3D compliments and enhances the scene rather than making Itself the centre of attention. It is immersive, providing depth to the visuals rather than drawing attention to itself. The film, as you would expect from a Martin Scorsese film, is well lit thus removing the usual light loss issues that often accompany a 3D film.
The quality of actor, as in any Scorsese film is very high. Even the relatively minor roles are filled with actors of note such as Ray Winstone, Emily Mortimer, Christopher Lee and Michael Stuhlbarg. On their own they are able to carry a film and in their sometimes brief appearances in Hugo they add depth and quality. Asa Butterfield in the lead role is very watchable and is able to carry the main acting duties with apparent ease. Chloe Grace Moretz just gets better with each role she is in. From star turns in Kick Ass and Let Me In Chloe is definitely one to watch in the coming years. Ben Kingsley gives a bit of a master class in restrained acting. Everything is buttoned down yet he still is able to convey so many emotions through the slightest look or phrasing. Even Sasha Baron Cohen isn’t annoying in this. A rare treat.
Overall a quality piece of cinema for children of all ages. Highly recommended.