Monday, December 5, 2011

Hugo (2011)


Hugo lives in a clock.  Or, more precisely, he lives in a lot of clocks.  The orphaned son of a clockmaker, he now haunts the passages in and among the various clocks in the Paris railway station, carefully winding and maintaining them each day.  In his spare time, he works on restoring and mending a broken automaton his father found abandoned in a museum.  Along the way, he must avoid being apprehended by the station inspector (a surprisingly restrained and inoffensive Sacha Baron Cohen) while earning the trust of a crotchety old toymaker (brilliantly portrayed by Ben Kingsley) and his wide-eyed goddaughter.  While the story seems to revolve around clockwork--it is, after all, the common thread connecting Hugo, his father, his father's unfinished project, and the toymaker--this is really a movie about movies, the profound impact they can have upon a person, and the sheer joy of making and loving movies. 

The film adopts a slow pace, appropriate for the sense of awe and wonder the audience is supposed to feel.  Then, too, with so many excellent 3D effects, a slower pace allows the audience to absorb the images leaping out at them from the screen (and with minimal nausea).  The film allows us to spend time with the characters instead of being barreled along by the plot--a wise choice, indeed, as these are characters who are more than characters who do. 

While this has by no means been a blockbuster hit, I suspect it will do well over the holidays.  A kid-friendly film set in Paris, in the winter, full of wonder and joy and family, with a vaguely Dickensian feel (Hugo is an orphan, after all) . . . it should do quite well indeed.  I don't know that I loved it as much as many seem to, but it was pleasant and sweet and lovely, and, at Christmas, that sells.

1 comment:

Aaron Mead said...

I recommend the book on which the movie is based, The Invention of Hugo Cabret. It is a Caldecott winner of several years ago. I have a review of it on my site if you're interested.