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Published on April 2nd, 2013 | by Yellow Magpie

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Hugo Film Review: Lost Treasures Come To Life

Hugo Film Review

Director: Martin Scorsese.
Cast: Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen and Chloe Grace Moretz.

Hugo is set in the Paris of the 1930’s. It is a time when the golden age of the automatons has ended. Cinema has started to assert itself as the chief form of entertainment and vaudeville theatre is in its final death throes. The film’s main character is a young boy called Hugo who lives, unbeknownst to anyone, at the Gare Montparnasse keeping the train station’s clocks in fine fettle.

Orphaned after his father died in a fire, Hugo must keep himself out of the clutches of the petty Station Inspector who vehemently dislikes children. Needing parts for his beloved automaton he unwittingly enters a complex relationship with toy shop owner, Georges. Young Hugo undertakes an adventure of discovery as he tries to take meaning from a puzzle that awaits.

Hugo Film Review Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield)

The film Hugo recreates the look and feel of a 1930’s Paris with a splash of added stardust. The peak of the mechanical age is given polish and sparkle.

In many respects Hugo is a film about loss, both the personal and the cultural. Looked upon by modern eyes we can see that the mechanical gears and pistons will shortly give way to the electric and eventually the digital. The once amazing world of the automaton, the zenith of the fusion between analogue machines and creativity, has now being forgotten. The movie is also a tribute to the early works of the famous French film-maker Georges Melier. Hugo brings these lost treasures to life.

‘Credit must also be given to the director and writer for refusing to portray the character as precocious.’

Asa Butterfield delivers a wonderfully understated performance as the film’s main protagonist, Hugo, with his eyes conveying much of the emotion and subtext underpinning the scenes. Credit must also be given to the director and writer for refusing to portray the character as precocious. Instead Hugo is allowed to be what he is – a child.

Hugo Film Review Georges Melies (Ben Kingsley) And Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield)

Ben Kingsley’s Georges Melier holds the viewer’s attention as we puzzle over this perplexing character. A tortured soul plagued by his success and failures, Melier struggles under the dark shadow that prevents his kinder nature from showing. Kingsley expertly breathes life to the undercurrents besetting the man.

‘Although it could be said that the screenwriter should take blame for the clichéd theatrics of the Station Inspection.’

Sacha Baron Cohen delivers a less than stellar performance as the Station Inspector. Instead of expanding his character he confines him and the end product is a barely two-dimensional parody of a human being. Although it could be said that the screenwriter should take blame for the clichéd theatrics of the Station Inspection.

Hugo Film Review Uncle Claude (Ray Winstone) And Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield)

Chloe Grace Moretz, who plays Isabella, is outshone by Butterfield. Compared to his subtle expressions her overacting is shown in stark contrast.

Hugo is a film that immediately sucks you into its enchanting world while not quite managing to maintain its initial promise. There are some lovely, no magical, set pieces. The movie’s opening, where we are introduced to Hugo’s world is breathtaking, as are the scenes involving the automaton. The film falls short with the stock character of the Station Inspector providing an unwelcome source of irritation.

‘If these gripes were corrected and one or two roles recast, the film could be considered one of cinema’s greats.’

The widespread use of strong English accents in the heart of France is also quite bizarre and off-putting. The film probably should have been in French. If these gripes were corrected and one or two roles recast, the film could be considered one of cinema’s greats.

As it stands even with these glaring weaknesses Hugo’s sumptuous highs more than outweigh the lows as 1930’s Paris comes to life.

Recommended Viewing

You can obtain Hugo here from Amazon.

Amazon.co.uk
For people living in Ireland or the United Kingdom, you can access: Hugo from here.

Amazon.ca
For Canada: Hugo.

Amazon.de
For Germany: Hugo.

Amazon.fr
For France: Hugo.

You might also like to check out Yellow Magpie’s The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adele Blanc-Sec Film Review and The Dictator Film Review: A Comic Let-down Despite The Odd Laugh.


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