Screenplay by: John Logan (screenplay), Brian Selznick (book)
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Cloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Lee
What starts off as a simple story about an orphan living in the clocks of a train station, turns into a poetic love-letter to the origins of filmmaking.
Set in a 1930s Paris train station, Hugo follows a boy’s quest to fix an automaton left behind by his father, and how he interacts with the people he encounters in the station. I am currently obsessed with Paris, so the beautifully crafted sets often accompanied by old-style French music brought the biggest smile to my face. It hardly seems surprising that the film leads with the highest number of nominations heading into the 84th Academy Awards.
The film is based on the book, “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick. And after years of films that should never be shown to children or adults with a delicate constitution, director Martin Scorsese was coerced into making a film his children could see. A task he clearly excelled at, having won Best Director at this year’s Golden Globes.
Another first for Scorsese was delving into the world of 3D technology; and might I just say, that in an industry inundated with pop-up-book-style-3D-post-conversion trash it is so refreshing to see 3D filmmaking that is nothing less than exceptional. What Scorsese has done best with his use of 3D is create a rich depth. The effect is not simply objects flying out the screen, but a world that you could fall into and get lost in. Scorsese said himself that one of the things that interested him most about 3D is how it affected the actors and their emotional performances – and when the entire screen is filled with Sir Ben Kingsley’s expressive and piercing eyes it is easy to understand his fascination.
The cast is lead not only by the Oscar winning, Kingsley (playing filmmaking royalty George Méliès), but also newcomer Asa Butterfield (playing the titular Hugo), and rising star Chloë Grace Moretz (playing Hugo’s friend and fellow adventurer). All leads give very strong performances and are supported by a very talented supporting cast (Sasha Baron Cohen, Christopher Lee, Helen McCrory, Richard Griffiths, and Frances de la Tour) whose delightful – if small – scenes serve to add a greater intricacy to the film.
Essentially Hugo is a visually stunning, and masterfully made film that references the origins of film in a way that will make any cinephile feel incredibly happy. At the same time it is very accessible to the masses as an adventure film that is heart-warming, humorous, and exciting.