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film review: hugo

Set in 1930s France, Hugo is the story of an orphan boy living in a Parisian train station. Having learned the trade of a clockmaker from his father, Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) spends his days winding the station’s clocks, stealing food from stalls and evading the station inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen). On the side he thieves pieces of clockwork to repair his father’s final project. Hugo’s thieving sees him butt heads with toy shop owner Georges Méliès (Ben Kingsley), who seems mysteriously invested in what Hugo is up to. After Méliès confiscates his notebook, Hugo teams up with Méliès’ goddaughter Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz) to retrieve his prized possession and discover the old man’s interest in it.

In every conceivable way, Hugo is a delight. The spectacular detail of the scenes and the intricacy of the literary and cinematic references, betray a director in love with the medium. The 3D technology is utilised brilliantly, but there’s a solid script behind the stunning scenes. Hugo uses everything at its disposal to tell the story. The train station provides the perfect setting, with an astonishing depth of field demonstrating some of the real potential of 3D cinema. The entire cast are splendid, particularly the children. There is plenty of laughter and wonder. The story is perfectly well-rounded, but may take you to a place you never imagined.

Hugo is a real film-lovers’ film. Rated PG, it’s more epic than your typical children’s movie. While kids should still enjoy the film, there is enough depth here to entertain cinema goers of any age. Serious in tone, but with an underlying joy, Hugo is a reminder that a massive budget and state of the art technology do not have to mean the script falls to the wayside. Ultimately Hugo is a wonderful homage to the craft of filmmaking. For a story about a pair of orphans and a washed up old man it has an uncanny way of making you smile.

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