Hugo More Than a Film History Lesson
- Wednesday, November 23, 2011
DVD Release Date: February 28, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: November 23, 2011
Rating: PG (for mild thematic material, some action/peril and smoking)
Genre: Drama, Family, Fantasy
Run Time: 127 min.
Director: Martin Scorsese
Actors: Asa Butterfield, Chloe Grace Moretz, Ben Kingsley, Helen McCrory, Sacha Baron Cohen, Michael Stuhlbarg, Ray Winstone, Emily Mortimer, Christopher Lee
When the darkness turns to light, it can be a glorious thing. David Lynch, director of some of the thematically darkest films of the last few decades (Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart), turned in one of his best films in 1999 with The Straight Story, a G-rated tale of family ties and heartland values. Now Martin Scorsese, best known for violent, R-rated films like Goodfellas and Taxi Driver, has temporarily handed in his gangster card and made the PG-rated charmer Hugo. It’s a 3D lesson in discovering one’s purpose in life and in finding healing through personal connections. It’s also a cautionary tale about the early days of filmmaking, and it’s one of the year’s best family movies.
The setting is a 1930s Paris train station, where Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield, Nanny McPhee Returns) keeps the clocks running all by himself. His father (Jude Law, Contagion), who taught Hugo about gears and mechanics, has perished in a fiery accident, leaving Hugo to a harsh life with his alcoholic uncle (Ray Winstone, Rango). But the uncle, who had been in charge of the clocks at the train station, has disappeared, leaving Hugo to carry on his work.
Fearing he’ll be tossed into an orphanage, Hugo keeps a low profile. He spends his days in the upper reaches of the train station, caring for the clocks. He descends to the main level only to snatch something to eat from one of the station’s food vendors, but he manages to raise the suspicions of the station inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa). In quieter moments, he remembers his father and ponders a device his dad left behind: an inert automaton that needs a heart-shaped key to operate.
A run-in with George (Ben Kingsley, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time), a local toy-seller, leads to Hugo’s friendship with Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz, Diary of a Wimpy Kid), George’s goddaughter. Together, they unlock Hugo’s automaton and learn more about George, his wife (Helen McCrory, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2) and the role George played in the advent of moving pictures.
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