Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo” is like nothing you’ve ever seen from the Oscar-winning filmmaker before — and that’s a very good thing. Set in Paris in the 1930s, Scorsese’s 3-D adventure film centers on Hugo Cabret, a young orphan living a secret life in the walls of a train station where he steals croissants for food and gadgets for a mysterious project he’s working on in his spare time. But when Hugo encounters the enigmatic owner of the train station’s toy shop, the young boy’s purpose finally comes into focus.
A beautifully shot coming-of-age tale that doubles as a love letter to cinema, “Hugo” is one of the best movies of the holiday season, and one of Scorsese’s all-time finest efforts. Check out five reasons why you need to see this film after the jump.
You’ll know whether or not “Hugo” is for you within the first ten minutes of the movie. Scorsese sends you soaring through his vision of Paris immediately, offering a beautiful and breathtaking opening shot that sets the tone for all the beauty that’s yet to come. The powerful, wordless sequence that ensues makes a bold statement: this is Scorsese as you’ve never seen him before.
Scorsese Changes Gears
Best known for his brutal crime dramas that put his characters through the bloody wringer, Scorsese’s “Hugo” is comparatively lighter fare, but it’s not without its own set of emotional sucker punches. Scorsese’s evolution with “Hugo” is jaw-dropping when considering his previous efforts, but this isn’t a complete face-lift for the Oscar winner: despite some phenomenal new window-dressing, the Scorsese you know and love is very much present throughout “Hugo,” even if you have to look a little bit harder to see it all.
Asa Butterfield Arrives
In a sea of strong supporting actors that includes Ben Kingsley and Christopher Lee, it’s Asa Butterfield as the titular Hugo who stands out the most. His childlike wonder, perfectly punctuated by an almost unworldly ice-blue gaze, propels “Hugo” forward and cements this young actor as a future star. Thankfully—or hopefully, I should say—we’ll see a lot more of him in the upcoming “Ender’s Game” adaptation.
Asa stands out as the most unique and attention-grabbing of the bunch, but he’s surrounded by a phenomenal cast. Kingsley is a delight as always as Georges Méliès, a curmudgeonly toymaker with a broken heart. Sacha Baron Cohen provides most of the movie’s laughs as the unnamed Station Inspector, though he delivers some emotional surprises as well. And Chloe Moretz continues to be one of the great young actors of our time, adding yet another memorable turn to her ever impressive list of credits
The Power of Cinema
“Hugo” is an unabashed love letter to film. It’s oddly appropriate that Scorsese’s deepest dive into the formative years of cinema (on screen at least) comes equipped with the industry’s most popular gimmick at the moment. Scorsese not only masters 3-D for the purposes of “Hugo” as a story, but also as a commentary on the evolution and power of the movies. It’s a glorious ride for fans of the medium, an absolute can’t miss for cinephiles everywhere.
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