‘Hugo’ is a brilliant ode to the history of cinema

Hugo (2011)

Directed by Martin Scorsese

9/10  PG

This is a personal plea to director Martin Scorsese: Please don’t make Hugo your last family film. This magical tale is based on the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brain Selznick, only to be wonderfully adapted for the screen by John Logan (Rango).

Hugo Cabret (the fantastic Asa Butterfield) lives in a train station in 1930s Paris. He watches the everyday lives of people coming and going, thieves for food and tries to avoid the devoted station inspector (Sasha Baron Cohen). When he meets Georges (Sir Ben Kingsley), who owns a small toy store in the station, as well as Georges’ goddaughter Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz), Hugo’s life changes for the better, and he is met with a world of opportunity, wonder, and adventure.

An absolute delight for the entire family, Hugo creates an ambiance like no movie you’ve ever seen before. An atmospheric French soundtrack sets the mood at the film’s opening, showing a beautiful view of the Paris cityscape. The immaculate dust that pervades the station at all times might as well be magic dust, and even in the coldest snowy scenes, the atmosphere remains warm and inviting. Even without action and violence, Scorsese keeps his captivated audience hooked the entire time.

This visual masterpiece couldn’t have happened without the amazing cast, led by the spunky Asa Butterfield. I was splendidly surprised by the way this boy could hold an audience. His emotional range is surely helped by his wonderful chemistry with co-star Chloë Moretz. My heart melted in my chest every time I saw Hugo and Isabel hold hands or smile at one another. Kingsley gives an enthralling performance, and seems absolutely absorbed into his character. But it’s Sash Baron Cohen that is by far the most impressive. He is splendidly comical in every scene, as he tries to woo the flower girl, played by Emily Mortimer, or catch the many “orphans” that ravage the station.

Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers put it perfectly when he said Hugo is “the stuff dreams are made of.” The best cinematic experience I’ve had in years, Hugo is pure magic.

Hugo is on Blu-ray and DVD.

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19 thoughts on “‘Hugo’ is a brilliant ode to the history of cinema

  1. Great review! I like the way you really described the movie’s visuals. I couldn’t have said it better myself! The movie really is what dreams are made of, and I was really impressed with exactly how effectively Scorsese utilized the 3D presentation, since he’d never worked with 3D before.

    I agree in hoping that this isn’t his last family-friendly film. It was wonderful to see him branch out so effectively here!

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