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Review: Hugo (U)
4:55pm Friday 2nd December 2011 in Film reviews
126 mins. Starring: Asa Butterfield, Chloe Grace Moretz, Sir Ben Kingsley, Helen McCrory, Sacha Baron Cohen, Emily Mortimer, Richard Griffiths, Frances de la Tour, Christopher Lee, Ray Winstone, Jude Law. Director: Martin Scorsese.
HUGO might revolve around the exploits of a pre-teenage boy and deal with themes of childhood innocence and the death of a parent but this impeccably crafted adventure is too sophisticated for young audiences.
Apart from a couple of well-orchestrated chases and slapstick courtesy of Sacha Baron Cohen with a squeaky leg brace, there is little here to entertain boys and girls the same age as the diminutive hero.
Indeed, the cumbersome running time and slow-paced first half will prove a test for parents too, especially those without a love for the bygone age of cinema, which Scorsese indulges in every lustrous frame.
While the narrative has its flaws, adapted by screenwriter John Logan from Brian Selznick's book The Invention Of Hugo Cabret, the on-screen craftsmanship is impeccable, from Robert Richardson's stunning cinematography to Dante Ferretti's production design and Sandy Powell's costumes.
Twelve-year-old Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is raised by his father (Jude Law), who works at a museum and has a passion for cinema and mechanical devices. The old man dies, leaving behind an intricate automaton, and Hugo is forced to live secretly in the station with his hard-drinking Uncle Claude (Ray Winstone), who maintains the clocks.
When the bottle claims Claude's life, Hugo continues to tend the clocks while stealing food from the shopkeepers without attracting the attention of the station inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen).
An encounter with bookish Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz), goddaughter of toy shop owner Papa Georges (Sir Ben Kingsley), catalyses a journey of self-discovery that Hugo hopes will lead to a message from beyond the grave from his father.
Hugo whirs gently for the first hour, and only really kicks into gear once the boy inserts Isabelle's heart-shaped key into the automaton and reveals one character's true identity.