, Raging Bull
, The Departed
- I could go on and on for the remainder of this review but you get the gist, Martin Scorsese is as legendary as it gets when it comes to the field of directing. But while the 69-year-old's resume is beyond reproach, there's been a key missing ingredient, a story for all ages.
With Hugo, Scorsese fills that void brilliantly, creating a visual masterpiece that's as intricately layered as any "family film" you will ever take in.
Scorsese dazzles from the moment his first frame hits the projector, a swooping panoramic flyby of Paris settling down on the train station where young Hugo Cabret (the original title) is assigned the task of keeping the clocks in check.
The orphaned Hugo (a polished Asa Butterfield) comes across broken down shopkeeper Georges Melies (a compelling Ben Kingsley) by way of thieving Melies' mechanical devices which sets off a chain of events that defines "destiny".
If there are issues to be had with Hugo, they lie in casting. While Sacha Baron Cohen delivers nicely on his socially awkward security guard role, the fact that it's Borat is at first a bit distracting.
Also curious, why Scorsese chose Chloe Moretz - brilliant in Let Me In - to feign British when he could have simply casted an actress who calls England home. There's one glaring scene where it's clear her attempted accent didn't fly and Scorsese was forced to go back into the studio to overdub the dialogue.
Those minor matters aside, Hugo is a celebration of the human spirit and our love affair with film. While it may not hit the emotional highs that Scorsese intended, it's the most resplendent directing effort of 2011, a luminous triumph that may just remind you why our hearts leap when the lights go down in a movie theater.