Thinking of Martin Scorsese, the top five pictures that came to mind are probably violent. The living legend of cinema has made his name on gangster films such as Mean Streets, Goodfellas, Casino, Gangs of the New York and The Departed, but a tale about an orphaned child in Paris wouldn't seem to be his forte. Sitting in the theatre after the lights came up, that assumption was wrong.
The story begins with a boy named Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) and his father, a gifted clock-maker. His father (Jude Law) comes home bearing a gift in the form of an automaton. He perishes in an accidental fire and young Hugo is left in the care of his drunken uncle Claude. Trained to do his uncle's duties Hugo becomes the repairman for the train station, Claude disappears not long after and Hugo is orphaned.
Living in the station, Hugo scavenges for parts around the station in hopes that he finds the missing piece to his father's automaton. His hunch is that the automaton has a message from his father before he passed. In searching for parts he draws the ire of a shopkeeper (Sir Ben Kingsley) and station agent (Sacha Baron Cohen). Hugo must keep on his toes, if he is caught he will be sent to an orphanage. Hugo is not alone though, Isabelle (Chloe Moretz), the shopkeeper's god daughter, is more than open to take part in his adventures.
There are a few secrets locked inside of Hugo and they should be experienced without any knowledge before hand. If the name George Melies is unfamiliar, then I will gladly let Martin Scorsese clue you in. Knowing little about the film beforehand offers a great deal of pleasures.
Scorsese's enthusiasm for the material waves a kind of spell over the audience. Aided by an excellent cast led by the vastly underrated Ben Kingsley and the two young leads with a great deal of potential. The director has a talent for drawing the best out of actors and he surprises no one in doing so again. What is surprising is the technical proficiency with which Scorsese wields 3D cameras. He doesn't go for the gimmicky shot, every sequence serves the story and dazzles simultaneously.
Hugo is part fiction, part history of film, and also a wonderful fantasy. Over his fifty year career, Scorsese has turned in one great film after another, and Hugo will most definitely be included in that class.