<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Martin Scorsese. Starring Ben Kingsley, Asa Butterfield, Sacha Baron Cohen, Chloe Moretz, Jude Law, Christopher Lee.
Released at the end of last year in theatres across the world, Hugo was not deemed ‘good enough’ to be released in India. That mystery is yet to be solved but let me shout out that Hugo is indeed a wonderful film to be watched in 3D and savoured with every sense.
Paramount Pictures USA and Viacom who handle their distribution here in India didn’t want to release Hugo here. Why? They didn’t think it was a good film. Not a good film! Multi-award winner Martin Scorsese has directed it. Oscar winner Ben Kingsley stars in it. It’s gotten rave reviews across the world. And they say they didn’t think it would work. Hmmm… Bull ‘fucking’ shit. Someone needs to blow the lid on this mystery soon. But until then we’ll talk about Hugo.
Scorsese isn’t known for his family films and for this serious filmmaker to use 3D must have taken a lot of thinking/convincing. And it paid off. Hugo is magical, classical, fantastical and mesmerising. This tale about a Dickensian-inspired boy who is relegated to poverty, forced to live in the walls of a Parisian train station in the 1930s tending to the mechanical clocks after his father dies in a tragic fire, is charming and heartfelt. It’s also Scorsese’s homage to filmmaking and film preservation, to childhood dreams and fantasies, to a sort of Peter Pan land where your inner child’s curiosity never dies.
Hugo, played by the amazing Asa Butterfield, must steal from the train station’s stores until of course Georges Milies (Ben Kingsley), who runs the toy store there, finds him out. But little do they both know that a wind-up automaton and a love for movies bind them in ways they can’t imagine just yet.
Wonderfully funny Sacha Baron Cohen plays a station inspector hell bent on catching all the urchins and packing them off to the orphanage. But he and all the other very Brit actors provides a backdrop for Hugo’s story – a story where he fixes things so that they may regain purpose in their lives.
Visually and aurally enchanting, with a score that is reminiscent of magic and the movie The Big Fish, Hugo is full of film nuggets about the first camera by the Lumière brothers, about the film with the rocket ship that flies into the eye of the ‘man on the moon’ and various other history-of-film references but put in such a brilliantly entertaining way that you are transported to your dreams.
Going on and on won’t really do justice, so let me say that with limited screens and show timings for this movie, you’ll have to be nimble and quick to catch this film before it’s gone. And in this unique instance, watching it in 3D will actually make a difference. After you watch it write to Paramount and Viacom and demand an explanation as to why they kept if from you!