Mediocre, oui monsieur Scorsese? –

Based on “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” a historical fiction book written and illustrated by Brian Selznick. Swooping from the sky through tumbling snowflakes, clouds of steam and crowds of travelers, Scorsese‘s camera whooshes joyfully through a labyrinth of ladders, shafts, cranks and cogs enchant our eyes into pleasure. Hugo’s exuberant opening shot glimmers at the very beginning of an adventure.

Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is an orphan who lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station where he works as a clock keeper. His father (Jude Law) inherited an automaton, a mechanical man who is supposed to write with a pen. Convinced the automaton contains a message from his father, Hugo goes to desperate lengths to fix it but he is still missing one mysterious part. Alongside came Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz) an orphan who lives with George Méliès (Ben Kingsley) an old man with a sour attitude. He runs a small toy booth in the train station.

After treated to a beautifully captivating opening, the film finally gets where it’s going. We see how Méliès took movies to the moon and back in 1902, how silent cinema’s filmmakers were magicians who can still make us smile and gasp, and how precious things are lost between the grinding gears of technology and time. But yet after the story gets deeper somehow you’ll see a gap around the story, and slowly you’ll be disappointed. While it was fine from a technical standpoint, the story was completely confounding.

The director are too focused on the visuals that the story and characters get left behind. The linkages between characters are lifeless and stiff, the dialogue are constrained to look poetic, and the plot is so slow moving that it trips over itself. It’s so superfluous that it loses it’s meaning and impact. Sadly, Scorsese aren’t quite enough to make this adaptation of Selznick’s novel as a wholly satisfying experience. Truly mediocre, what a shame.

Nevertheless, the film won the 84th Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing. In 2012 BAFTA Awards the film won Best Sound and Best Production Design. In the 69th Golden Globe Awards Scorsese won Best Director.

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