by Tony Medley
Run time 130
OK for children.
Scorsese is halfway there with this movie. He has moved out of violence
and barbarity into more gentle human emotions, and that's good. Alas,
unfortunately, he still hasn't found a pair of scissors with which to
edit his films. Once again he seems to have put every single foot he
shot into this, making it at least 40 minutes too long.
And that's too
bad because this is a sweet story with excellent acting. It's the story
of an orphan boy, Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) who surreptitiously
cares for the huge clock in a Paris railroad station, living in the
rafters, à la The Phantom of the Opera, after his father, Jude Law, dies
in a fire near the start of the film.
When a mean
shopkeeper, Georges Méliès (Ben Kingsley), takes Hugo's prized notebook
he tries to get it back. He is befriended by Méliès' stepdaughter,
Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz), who helps him because she's looking for
from there is a true adventure that deals with the earliest days of
filmmaking. This is one of two movies recently released about the
pioneer days of filmmaking. The other, The Artist, while highly
touted for Oscar consideration, is a well-made silent film that is
unlikely to appeal to modern audiences. Set in the 1930s, this one, on
the contrary, is highly appealing, with a heartwarming story, excellent
acting, and displays wonderful restorations of some actual films made at
the dawn of the filmmaking era.
Moretz give fine performances for actors so young (13). Even though
Moretz looks several years older than Butterfield (maybe because she is
taller), she is less than two months his elder. Even so, what appeared
to be a disparity in their ages was somewhat bothersome. I kept
wondering why a girl who appeared to be several years older would have
such an interest in such a younger boy.
But this wasn't
enough to keep the film from being delightful, despite its length.
There's a B
story involving the station guard (Sacha Baron Cohen), who is trying to
capture as many orphans as he can to sell them to orphanages, and the
girl he pursues, Emily Mortimer. Cohen gives a surprisingly good comedic
performance outside of his better known profane characters like Borat
Helen McCrory, Méliès's wife, Jeanne d'Alcy (Mama Jeanne in the movie)
give performances that expertly capture their seemingly inscrutable
characters so essential to maintaining the mystery that permeates the