Monday, 13 February 2012

Hugo, dir. Martin Scorsese, scr. John Logan based on The Invention Of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, st. Ben Kingsley, Chloë Grace Moretz, Sacha Baron Cohen, Asa Butterfield, Ray Winstone, Emily Mortimer, Jude Law, Christopher Lee

Movies about movies seems to be Hollywood's latest passion at the moment. In one corner we have Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist - a glorious slice of silent cinema wonderment, and in the other we have Martin Scorsese's Hugo, a quirky gallic tale of identity and belonging-cum-biopic of turn-of-the-century pioneer filmmaker Georges Méliès. Leading the way with eleven nominations in this year's Oscar race, Hugo has quite clearly touched hearts and misted eyes through its Amélie-like wide-eyed curiosity, but like a cinematic version of an iPad textbook, while Hugo imputes information beautifully, it fails to invoke any sense of genuine sentiment. And it's hard to say why exactly. Butterfield is suitably urchained enough as Hugo, Grace Moretz pulls off an endearingly plummy Brit accent, and Sir Ben makes no concession to the fact this is primarily a kid's film, and turns in a performance that threatens all manner of menace, depression and rage simmering under the surface. The problem I suspect lies in John Logan's adapted screenplay that feels joltingly mistranslated in places. Some of the plot devices are knitted together in a way that's just plain clumsy and there's no sense of a real through-line. It's visually and aurally richly detailed however and is sure to make for thoroughly pleasant viewing on a future BBC1 Christmas Day schedule.