And so my journey comes to a close. The final film that I have seen and reviewed is Martin Scorsese’s Hugo; a fitting film to cap off my Best Picture nominee reviews. I remember being perplexed when I saw previews for what looked like a 3-D children’s movie directed by Martin Scorsese. I won’t ruin it for you, but halfway through it becomes very clear how important this film is to Scorsese.
The film is based on the children’s book The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. In 1931, Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is an orphan who lives between the walls of the train station Gare Montparnasse in Paris. He spends his days maintaining the clocks, stealing food and avoiding the eyes of Station Inspector Gustave (Sacha Baron Cohen.) Most importantly, Hugo is trying to complete a project that he and his clockmaker father (Jude Law) were working on shortly before he died. The project is an automaton that Hugo believes when fixed, will write a secret message. In order to fix the automaton, he steals parts from the station toy store owner, (Ben Kingsley) who catches him and takes away Hugo’s notebook, (which had instructions for fixing the automaton.) In order to get the notebook back and fix the automaton, Hugo asks for help from the toy store owner’s goddaughter Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz.) Together they uncover that the secret of the automaton leads to an even greater mystery. (Which I won’t divulge, because it’s part of the fun!)
I must say that this film was just swell. By and large, Scorsese is most known for his violent street films such as Taxi Driver, Goodfellas and more recently The Departed. Hugo is a different breed of Scorsese film than what we are used to for sure. It is the quintessential film that parents and children can both enjoy; which is something that is getting harder and harder to find. Many have said that The Artist is a love letter to film, but Hugo is no certainly no slouch. Not only does it celebrate the innovation of film as a storytelling device, but it conveys a powerful message of finding one’s purpose in life. Ben Kingsley’s mysterious toy store owner conveys the anger and sorrow of years gone by; longing for the days when he was great. Asa Butterfield brings wide-eyed honesty to the Hugo; the child archetype of selfless compassion. I found myself most impressed with Chloë Grace Moretz however. Moretz has been in a few other films in the past few years (Kick-Ass, Let Me In) but Hugo allows her to charm the audience with a beaming curiosity and passion for adventure; I expect big things coming her way in the future. So let’s say you’re a Scorsese fan and want to share that passion with your kids without them telling you to “get your f*&%ing shine box” every hour, on the hour; show them Hugo instead.
Final Grade: A