DVD: Hugo (U)


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The Independent Culture

There's a common misconception that Martin Scorsese's most compelling films only deal with the Mob, but three of his finest – After Hours, The King of Comedy and The Age of Innocence – barely have a hoodlum in sight.

And neither does Hugo, a sumptuous assault on the senses and a love letter to the early days of cinema. It's Paris in 1931 and lonely 12-year-old Hugo (Asa Butterfield) is taken under the wing of a sozzled uncle (Ray Winstone, in a blink-or-you'll-miss-it performance) when his kindly horologist father (Jude Law) perishes in a fire. He's forced to reside behind Paris' Gare Montparnasse and is tasked with servicing an exquisite clock and pilfering from the station platform for his food. He constantly tries to avoid the vindictive station inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen), a martinet who is fixated with sending urchins to the orphanage.

Hugo is obsessed with fixing a broken automaton his father owned; he's convinced it has a vital message to impart. However, he manages to lose his precious notebook containing instructions on how fix the automaton to Ben Kingsley's curt toy-shop owner, a certain Georges Méliès. The former film innovator has fallen on hard times ("I'm just a broken, wind-up toy") and is desperate to forget his film-making past. It's clear that Hugo and Méliès need each other.

Hugo, based on Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret, is a gentle, very old-fashioned children's film.