So I started on my Hugo review on 12th December. Of last year. If you think anyone is better at procrastination... think again. I have been slagging on with this review for nearly a month now. I even asked my friend Pragya, who has not seen the film, to write it. This was her review-
Spelt with 4 letters.
Shares name with HUGO BOSS.
Can be rearranged to spell GOHU, OHUG, HOUG, HUOG, GHOU, GUHO.
Very good movie.
Sxc sxc men.
I think she has a future, ouie? Anyways, after two viewings, here is my review. Hopefull it will be marginally better than Pragya's masterpiece.
Hugo revolves around an orphaned boy Hugo Cabret, who lives inside a train station in Paris, winding up the clocks there as he had learned from his now deceased father, who was a clockmaker. Right before his death, Hugo's father brought home a broken automaton, which is a metal man designed to write, in hopes that they would fix it together, but he dies. Hugo, bent on making it work as a sort of tribute to his father, has to constantly steal bits of food and also broken parts from the toy store at the station, all while trying not catch the attention of the inspector Gustav who would send him to the dreaded orphanage. One day the owner of the toy shop catches him and takes away his father's book with all the instructions for the automaton. In desperation Hugo befriends the toy maker Papa Georges's ward Isabelle and he also starts working for him so that he may earn the book back. But what Hugo doesn't realise is that his quest to solve the mystery of the automaton is completely intermingled with Papa Georges' absolutely wondrous past.
As everyone knows by now, Papa Georges is in fact the famous, prolific and creative film maker of early cinema, Georges Méliès. This film is Martin Scorsese's tribute to the man, and probably to all of cinema for making him what he is today.
Asa Butterfield plays Hugo. He's a wonderful child actor because he has the ability to portray the naivety and mischief of a kid, as well as capture those truly sad moments of when he's alone, and his big blue eyes are so perfect for this sort of dreamer-role. For me he is somewhat in the league of Daniel Radcliffe in terms of the total wonder and joy that comes in his face when he sees something unexpected, and also Haley Joel Osment when he's supposed to show hurt and sadness. He truly was the standout actor in the film. The others- Sir Ben Kingsley, Chloë Moretz, Helen McCrory, Sacha Baron Cohen, Michael Stuhlbarg are all very good in their roles also. I especially liked McCrory for the emotions she was able to bring into the film with her really limited screen time. While we see young Hugo and Isabelle getting introduced to the enchantment of films, McCrory’s Jeane was there from the beginning and she gets to rediscover her love for them. This film also showcases the best performance from Cohen that I have seen. We first think his role is that of a humorous villain, but there is much more to him.
However the real star of the film is Scorsese. He has made a really beautiful film- both aesthetically and emotionally. In today’s world, when 3D gets an automatic disapproving look by any “real” film enthusiast, Hugo embraces the technology and makes it part of the story itself. The idea that the first film ever shown was about a train arriving at the station made the viewers gasp and duck as though it was coming out of the screen, and that is exactly what 3D does, just left me gobsmacked. Also, and this will sound lame I promise, the snow in it made me really happy because I’ve never seen snow. Even outside of 3D, the film is just beautiful to look at with the Parisian train station from the 30s and the rooms inside of clocks and obviously, Méliès' sets.
On an emotional level, first the film is the story of an orphaned boy who has a gift for fixing things finding a secret and eventually happiness. It is a sweet tale but the real magic of the film is the story of cinema within it- its birth and its glory. This part really got to me. I mean honestly these two parts of the film do not go together completely, which can be considered as the main flaw of the film, but the creation of cinema is so magnificent and touching; I cannot help but overlook all flaws. I had multiple epiphanies while watching it both times (yes I do know how deranged that sounds, but I did) and it helped me in ways I cannot explain here. I mean I have always written extremely subjective reviews, and it cannot get more personal than this film. I think that a film like Hugo is almost custom-made for people like me. I am someone who loves to watch children’s films, and there is nothing I love more than films. Hugo is both of these, and despite its imperfect mixture and unequal amounts screen-time given to all the characters, I have fallen in love with this movie.
Going with the theme of nostalgia that is prevalent in many films of this year, Hugo is a breathtaking film about the start of cinema that was as marvelous then as it is now. Scorcese, ever the master that he is, presents us with a story that will strike a chord with lovers of cinema of all ages. It must have been wonderful being there when it all started, with the technologies developing and people discovering films for the first time. They were like dreams, and that is what Hugo really is: a film about dreams- of Hugo Cabret's, of his dad's, of Georges Méliès', of Martin Scorsese's, and well, somewhat of mine too.