by Sanchez C.
“Hugo” is set in Paris, circa 1930 and the opening shot of the film-a long aerial tracking shot inside The Gare Montparnasse train station-perfectly establishes the period during which the movie is set. From the first few minutes, you can tell its masterful filmmaking. Directed by Martin Scorsese, “Hugo” is a departure from the excessively profane and violent storytelling he has made in the past. As different as it is from his other movies, Scorsese uses the same vibrant energy as he did with such different movies like “ The Departed” or “ Goodfellas” even “Raging Bull”.
“Hugo” starts out with a young, orphaned boy named Hugo Cabaret (Asa Butterfield) staring out of a the windows of a clock tower watching a busy day at the train station unfold. Musicians are playing on their cellos and violins while people are eating, crowds are moving to catch the early train, people are falling in love or just going on about their day. This is all masterfully choreographed and even small little subplots about life in the station seem to add to the organic experience rather than distract.
Hugo lives all alone in the clock tower orphaned after his father dies in accident and after his clock worker and alcoholic uncle-who Hugo apprenticed under- disappears. The only connection Hugo still has to his dead father comes in the form of an old abandoned automaton which has missing parts, which he steals from an angry old shopkeeper (Ben Kingsley) to try and fix the automaton to unlock a mystery which Hugo believes was left after his father died. One day, Hugo meets the shopkeepers god daughter, Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz), and they both go and try to solve the mystery behind the automaton and Hugo's past.
Scorsese has never made a full on comedy (besides the recent “The Wolf of Wall Street”) but he executes some Chaplin-esque comedy involving Hugo's adventures in the station wether it's having Hugo observe the crowds or steal a piece of bread all while avoiding the station inspector (a hilarious Sacha Baron-Cohen), Scorsese succeeds in making much of “Hugo” a great comedy. The dramatic moments in “Hugo” are also worthy of applause. One scene involving the shopkeeper's past told in flashback, are heartbreaking and scenes involving Hugo's friendship with Isabelle are very well acted and well done by the two young actors especially a scene involving Hugo and Isabelle's trip to a movie theater, as the watch a movie for the first time, you can see the excitement and awe in their faces as they watch movie making at its finest. And that is what I was doing while watching this movie.
Throughout “Hugo”, there is a wave of melancholy that permeates. The plot of “Hugo” revolves around a boy who feels lost in his environment, and finds solace and answers in his life in films and filmmaking, just as the director Scorsese did in real life. Much of Scorsese's young life was spent indoors watching his peers play outside or at the movies since he was asthmatic.
There is something extraordinarily poignant about “Hugo”. Not only is it about a lost boy finding his place in the world, its also about people giving life a second chance.
HUGO: ***1/2 out of **** stars.