When he’s not making quality films, Martin Scorsese has spent an admirable amount of time restoring them. His latest effort, a 1930s-set fantasy taking a Philip Pullman-ish approach to cinema history, combines both passions with aplomb. More
In a pop-up book Paris beautifully rendered in shimmering CG, Hugo (Asa Butterfield) is a lonely orphan who lives in the walls of a train station, keeping the clocks wound while concealing his presence from gammy-legged inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen). We first meet our hero speeding through the Potter-esque platforms in order to steal parts from an embittered toymaker (Ben Kingsley) and repair the mysterious automaton his inventor father (Jude Law) left him. But could there be a connection between the two?
Well, yes… but it’s not Hugo’s underwhelming plight that Scorsese’s concerned with. Instead, he takes the opportunity to celebrate the pioneers of his beloved medium, revisiting long-forgotten films (1902’s A Trip To The Moon) in glorious 3D and remembering long-forsaken film-makers (Georges Méliès, the Lumière Brothers) along the way. At one point Hugo dangles precariously from a clock face like silent comedian Harold Lloyd (and Doc Brown!) before him, but don’t be fooled into thinking this is kids’ stuff.
Besides a seam of darkness that includes a show-stopping clockwork nightmare and Cohen’s ashamed admission: “I was injured in the war – it will never heal…” Hugo is aimed at Scorseses-in-the-making rather than the mass market. It’s not an adventure, but a loving tribute to all the broken things, and those who would fix them. Hide