Accepting his award for best director at the Golden Globes, Martin Scorsese said “my daughter wanted to me make a movie she could see”. Hugo certainly fits the bill.
A fantasy, a morality tale, a homage to the origins of the movie business, Hugo is a visual delight that is both a child’s movie and a love poem to an industry.
Asa Butterfield stars as an orphan living in a Paris train station, trying to finish a project his father started before his untimely demise. Ben Kinglsey (who is so heavily made up that I couldn’t differentiate whether it was he or Patrick Stewart) holds the secret, and only the help of Kingsley’s adopted Goddaughter (warmly portrayed by Chloë Moretz) makes it all happen. Sasha Baron Cohen plays the Station Inspector for both laughs and drama, although 20 minutes of his part could easily have been cut to the benefit of the picture.
The sets are incredible; I was unable to tell what was real and what was CGI. The movie had the look and feel of the late 1920’s, fully supported by the costuming and makeup.
Trying to satisfy both an audience of children and an audience of movie history lovers is a difficult task, and Scorsese sometimes spends more time amusing the young set than I would like–the dream-within-a-dream sequence was too much for both me and Gail.
Gail also notes
“A good chase sequence is the best thing in the world. A bad chase sequence is the worst thing in the world.”
While that may be an overstatement, the chases in Hugo were not all that interesting.
I liked this movie, and I think it will become an important part of the Scorsese canon. But when Best Picture time rolls around, it can’t hold a candle to The Artist.