In 1931 Paris, an orphan living in the walls of a train station gets wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton.In 1931 Paris, an orphan living in the walls of a train station gets wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton.In 1931 Paris, an orphan living in the walls of a train station gets wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton.
Set in 1930's Paris, the main focus of this cinematic love is the work of the first movie magician, Georges Melies. We are introduced to Hugo (Asa Butterfield), a young man whose father left him a automaton after his death. It was a project that they worked on together, but never finished it. Hugo's main mission is to get the object working. As an orphan, Hugo hides in the rafters of a train station, maintaining the clocks that his drunken uncle used to do. After befriending a young girl, Isabelle (Chloe Moretz), he finally gets the automaton working, and it opens up a mystery that leads to the forgotten cinema of Melies (Ben Kingsley), now working on a store in the station.
The film shows love for silent cinema, and particularly the magic of Melies. Sacha Baron Cohen's station inspector is occasionally funny, and his character seems to be filtered through both Peter Sellers' Inspector Clouseau, and Jacques Tati's Monsieur Hulot, but he just doesn't seem to really progress at all, and feels almost like a filler character. Scorsese, like Robert Zemekis and Bob Gale before, reference that iconic Harold Lloyd moment in Safety Last! (1923), as Hugo hangs from a clock face.
Like so many others who speculate about the choices of Oscar nominations, Hugo, I feel, is not a contender for the best picture Oscar. There were some far better films produced in 2011. That said, the film is beautiful, accomplished , and often fun. Also, the resurgence of interest in a forgotten father of cinema, is completely touching, and leaves a warm feeling in the heart. Unfortunately, I did not see this in 3D; as far as I am aware, Scorsese uses it to brilliant degrees, so perhaps this would have made the experience perfect (despite the fact that I care not for the dimensions of 3.
- Feb 26, 2012