Based on Brian Selznick’s children’s book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Hugo the movie doesn’t disappoint. The story of an orphaned boy living in secret in a Paris train station in the 1930s, Hugo’s life intersects with a grumpy, formerly celebrated filmmaker thought to be long dead. The film is also very much an homage to very early cinema, and as in the book, this added a unique dimension to the story. Very pleasing to the eye (and in fact nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including Cinematography among them), the sets, costumes and special effects really bring Selznick’s unique book to life.
I thought this was an interesting choice for Martin Scorsese to direct (add Best Director and Best Film to the movie’s Oscar nominations); it’s a far cry from his usual controversial and often violent adult movies like Raging Bull, Cape Fear, and Goodfellas. Ben Kingsley plays the part of George Melies to perfection, and Sasha Baron Cohen adds comic relief as the overly stern and socially awkward Station Inspector – and for once doesn’t play a bizarre character that makes one cringe. The real stars are the kids – Asa Butterfield as Hugo, and Chloe Grace Moretz as Isabelle.
My two older boys and I really enjoyed this movie. I think it can definitely stand on its own, but is even better if you’ve first read the book.