Wednesday, 23 September 2020
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Wednesday, 30 November 2011 19:06

HugoI have to admit I’m somewhat at a loss for words as to how to describe Martin Scorcese’s latest film HUGO. And trust me, that doesn’t happen very often! This is an almost indescribable film, combining elements of mystery, comedy, and emotionally complex drama. It’s also filmed in rather stunning 3D and is a visual treat. It’s probably one of the most sophisticated films of the year and yet it is geared toward children.


Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is an orphan who lives in the walls of a bustling Paris train station in the 1930’s. His father, who died in a fire, has left him with nothing but a broken mechanical robot called an automaton that they were working together to repair. His drunken uncle whisks him away to the train station where he lives and works keeping the clocks in working order, but then he too disappears leaving Hugo to a lonely life of stealing enough to survive.

Kingsley and ButterfieldHugo spends all his free time trying to fix the automaton with parts stolen from the grumpy toy maker’s shop in the station. Desperately lonely, he believes that its’ mechanical scribbling will contain a message from his father. Without giving away the entire plotline, I’ll tell you that one day he gets caught and lives are changed in the process.

This is a lovely, old-fashioned film about people not always being what they seem. Even the characters that seem silly and one-dimensional have more substance to them, most notably Sacha Baron Cohen as the cartoonish Station Inspector. He cuts a comical figure with his funny walk and oversized moustache, but behind the goofy, stern exterior we see that he is painfully self-conscious. Some of the best scenes are about his sweet crush on the woman who runs the flower shop (Emily Mortimer).

Butterfield and MoretzBen Kingsley is brilliant and imposing as Georges Meliers, the toymaker who turns out to be much more than he seemed. Meliers was once an acclaimed filmmaker and Kingsley bares a striking resemblance to the real historical figure. Chloe Moretz plays his niece Isabelle, the bookish girl who befriends Hugo. She displayed talent beyond her years as the sullen vampire child in Let Me In and doesn’t disappoint here.

It’s interesting to note the same person who directed such dark, adult films such as Goodfellas and Taxi Driver directs this Dickensian family classic! It just goes to show that great filmmaking knows know genre, and that Scorsese’s real talent is in creating quality films for those who love the movies.


Directed by Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas), Starring Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Chloe Moretz, Sacha Baron Cohen.

This is Martin Scorsese’s first feature film in seven years that doesn’t star Leonardo DiCaprio. They have collaborated on five films to date.

The real life Jaquet-Droz automata are just as complex as the one depicted in the film and still in working order! They were built between 1768 and 1774 and are on display at a museum in Switzerland. Photos of them can be found on Wikipedia.