Hugo (2011)

Directed by Martin Scorcese
(number 391)

My first Martin Scorcese film of the project (I think…) and maybe the most unexpected of him. A director who is mostly known for gritty realism, taking on a charming film about a little boy. But this is not really a children’s film – or at least, it’s not just that. I imagine if I had seen it as a child I may have felt the way I did when I saw Baron Munchausen as a kid. Overwhelmed, enchanted and like I’d stepped into something huge.

Hugo is a love letter to film – through the story line’s attachment to the early films of George Melies and also from the way it’s shot lovingly.

The actors are all superb, and the film is firmly in the genre of magical realism – with odd technology, lucky breaks and beautiful light, dream sequences and montages and characters larger than life.

There are small stories happening, threaded all through the story of the main character – Hugo’s tragic past and his quest to belong in the world.

I am totally on board for all the rides on offer, the startlingly beautiful cinematography, the character stories, the tragedy and the strange montage of the past. The slightly creepy automaton and everything fitting together so nicely. The recurring jokes and the foreshadowing. Sasha Baron Cohen’s problematic character who is so awful to Hugo (and other stray waifs) but wins your sympathy with his awkward attempts to court the flower seller.

Does it make me love the people? Absolutely. Asa Butterfield has such a look about him, such a vulnerability that you’re on his side immediately. Then there’s Chloe Grace Moeritz’s bookish girl who’s so wishing for adventure, which resonates with how I felt as a child to a degree – where books seemed to be so much more interesting than real life.

I really should read the book that this is based on but somehow I’ve never got around to it. Maybe this year I will!

Bechdel test: There are two lines between two named actresses, but it’s the only moment. As mentioned here, it probably doesn’t count if it’s so brief that you could blink and miss it.

Best line:
Hugo Cabret: I’d imagine the whole world was one big machine. Machines never come with any extra parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need. So I figured, if the entire world was one big machine, I couldn’t be an extra part. I had to be here for some reason. And that means you have to be here for some reason, too.

State of Mind: Such love.


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