By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
Director Martin Scorsese’s latest film, “Hugo,” starts as an adventure story and ends as a love letter.
Our hero is Hugo (Asa Butterfield), an orphan who lives in a Paris train station. His dad was a clock maker, and Hugo picked up his dad’s interest in machines.
He believes an automaton (a clockwork robot) will reveal a message from his late father, so he’s obsessed with getting the thing up and running.
While trying to steal gears from a toy store to fix the machine, he gets on Georges Méliés’ (Ben Kingsley) bad side. Hugo also develops a friendship with Méliés’ goddaughter, Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz).
Isabelle shares her love of books, and Hugo introduces her to movies, something her godfather has forbidden her to see.
Sacha Baron Cohen provides comedy relief and keeps the adventure story going as the Station Inspector, who’s dedicated to catching young waifs and sending them to the orphanage.
The love letter begins when Isabelle and Hugo investigate Méliés’ past. “Hugo” becomes a celebration of the early pioneers of film, and Scorsese mixes in actual movies from the medium’s infancy.
It’s beautifully shot, and early 20th century Paris is richly rendered. The 3-D version provides amazing depth of field, so you get a feel for the crowded train station that Hugo calls home.
You’ll find romance in the way the Station Inspector pursues the flower girl, as well as in Hugo’s devotion to keeping all of the station’s clocks running on time.
But some of that romance feels forced. “Hugo” becomes a little too precious and a little too reverent, creating a sense of self-importance that hangs in the air at times.
I give “Hugo” a B plus.
It’s showing at the Malco in Tupelo.
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