Sunday, 12 February 2012


U, 2011, Directed by Martin Scorsese
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Chloé Grace Moretz, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen

It may be hard to envisage legendary director Martin Scorsese, director of esteemed classics Raging Bull, Taxi Driver and GoodFellas, opting to work behind the lens on a U certificate children’s film. In 3D, no less. But within mere minutes of Hugo's startlingly beautiful opening sequence, with Parisian lights glistening in your face and dialogue-free action depicting our orphan protagonist Hugo Cabret’s face peering from behind the Gare Montparnasse's clocks, as he tracks the goings-on with the characterised individuals surrounding him, and it will hit you like a train: this is no children’s film, but a love letter to the medium Marty has become such an iconic part of – cinema.

Set in 1930s Paris, Hugo goes about his days hiding in the walls, manning the clocks and avoiding the station Inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen), all whilst attempting to repair the automaton (a mechanical man who can write messages) he and his father worked on before his untimely demise left Hugo on his lonesome.  It is through this event that we are introduced to the eccentric cast surrounding the loveable boy (played by The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas' Asa Butterfield, a revelation) and his new friend, young Isabelle (Kick Ass' Chloe Moretz, continuing to impress in everything): the aforementioned Inspector Gustav, played with relish by Cohen who steals every scene he finds himself in; Christopher Lee as a kindly librarian; and Ben Kinglsey as the grouchy owner of a toy shop who bears a secret that is inexplicably linked in a large part to Hugo’s ambition to repair the automaton. Needless to say, the film veers off to become associated with the technicalities of cinema, and a film that can be appreciated by all.

For the first time in quite a while, the 3D complements proceedings - somewhat ironically considering the feature's focus on a time when the silver screen had no sound let alone enhanced image - immersing you into an experience rarely achieved these days. Sit back in awe as you witness re-enactments of the stripped-back hugely original way in which films were made, not to mention a general appreciation of the joy cinema can bring to individuals, generation after generation. If that does not supply you with joy, it is a struggle to think what will. Because through Hugo, Martin Scorsese has not only crafted a product suitable to everybody everywhere, but – and whisper this - he might just have crafted his masterpiece. Well... another addition to the filmography that can be mentioned alongside the others at the top of this review anyway.