Martin Scorsese has a filmic brain that few directors of his generation could challenge. Effected by Cassevetes early on he honed his skills in the grit and grime of the mean streets of New York city and has since portrayed some of the most horrific, corrupt families ever put to screen. With Hugo however he leaves all of his vicious ways behind to make a family film which ends up being more; A beautiful and touching love letter to the fantasy of film itself.
The titular Hugo is Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) a young orphan boy who works unseen in a grand Parisian railway, winding clocks, steeling bread and avoiding the station guard (a Clouseou like Sacha Baron Cohen). It’s in the tower of the station where the heart of Hugo lies; A broken robotic automotron, left to the orphaned Hugo by his father (Jude Law) which he is intent on fixing even if it means steeling parts from the local toy maker Papa George (Ben Kingsley). Scolded by George and his detailed notebook taken, Hugo meets George’s Grand-daughter, Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz) and they attempt to find out exactly what the secret of the robot is.
To call Hugo a kids film would be a mistake. It’s tone is somewhat dark and stilted and it’s focus shifts halfway to accommodate Scorsese’s true motive; A dissection of the invention of cinema by the Lumiere brothers and it’s genius in the hands of George Méliès, the true focus of Hugo. Loaded with cinematic nods, surrounded in wonderfully rendered settings and sublimely crafted by editor Thelma Schoonmaker Hugo is a hugely enjoyable piece of work and, though it’s aim is children, ultimately it remains a film with an adult heart and soul molded by a deep love of motion pictures.