Film Review: Hugo
By Garrett Coffman
Leaving the world of gritty crime dramas and dark thrillers for the time being, director Martin Scorsese whisks us away to 1930s Paris in his first-ever family friendly adventure. “Hugo” follows the exploits of its eponymous protagonist as he tries to solve the mystery of a small robot that his father leaves before his death. The little robot leads Hugo on a journey to not only discover the robot’s secret but also the magic of classic cinema.
Twelve-year-old Hugo Cabaret (Asa Butterfiled) is a poor orphan boy living in the upper quarters of a Parisian train station. He must sneak his way around the station unnoticed to avoid the orphan-hunting station inspector (Sasha Baron Cohen) and set the station’s clocks–the duty that perviously belonged to his alcoholic uncle until his death–to maintain the facade that all is as it should be. Part of Hugo’s desire to stay in the station is to find the key to his father’s automaton, a small robot that Hugo is convinced is the key to his future. It is not until Hugo is caught stealing from a shopkeeper in the station (Ben Kingsley) and his granddaughter (Chloë Grace Moretz) that the boy sets to repair the broken automaton and the story gets in motion.
The film takes a while to get some of the clunkier bits of the story in motion, and for the first hour the film struggles to find its footing. Once we get about halfway through the second act and some of our characters are unmasked, “Hugo” settles into gear and the film is given the opportunity to really take off. At the heart of this film is a story about the wonders of cinema so it is only appropriate that Scorsese’s latest is an absolute marvel to behold and showcases the director in absolute top form. Part fantasy adventure, part film history class, “Hugo” is brought to life by its glorious luster and sits atop the director’s filmography as his most visually alluring work to date. It is clear that this film is a love letter to the kind of film that a young Scorsese would have loved and it passion is displayed in a grand fashion.