Director: Martin Scorsese
Recently walking away with a clutch of Oscars, Martin Scorsese’s latest film is atypical from a director more famous for depicting plenty of gangsters, guns and gore. Making what is ostensibly a family film, Scorsese indulges his love of the history of cinema to create a delightful fable that celebrates the early pioneers of the moving image.
In the 1930s, young orphan Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) lives secretly in the bowels of a Paris train station. Whilst making sure all the clocks in the station run on time, he spends his time avoiding the station guard (Sacha Baron-Cohen) and stealing small parts to complete an automaton left to him by his father. When he’s caught by store owner Georges (Ben Kingsley), Hugo shows an aptitude for repairing items. Soon, after meeting Georges’ granddaughter Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz), they discover that the unassuming shop owner has a surprising past as one of the greatest film directors who ever lived.
This is a technically precise affair, beautifully filmed with some of the best use of 3D seen in the past few years. Scorsese has created a world of ornate design and magical contraptions that echo the grandiose sets of cinematic epics from the past. In some ways it seems that Scorsese has enjoyed overcoming the limits of realism that has usually bound him. And the fact that he’s able to honor the origins of cinema seems to give the film a beautifully personal touch.
The acting is good, with Butterfield engaging in the lead role and Kingsley alternately grumpy and sympathetic. Baron-Cohen also has fun and shows that he can do a lot more than the likes of “Borat” and “Bruno.”
Whilst it’s 2 hour plus run time may test the patience of the younger elements of the audience, this is a unique film in the oeuvre of Scorsese and a beautiful celebration of the cinema past.