3rd December 2011

A Homage To Melies That Confuses Itself

I have to be honest, heck I’ve not really been much else thus far have I! But this film has me a little stumped. You see, I don’t know if I liked it or not. I didn’t not like it, but I don’t know if I liked it.

That leaves me in a spot of bother really as I can’t really say why I don’t like it, if I don’t like it, which I don’t know if I do or not…

Hugo is basically Martin Scorsese’s homage to cinema (produced by Johnny Depp no less), more specifically to Georges Melies, there’s also elements of Harold Lloyd as well, which can be seen on the poster with Hugo (Asa Butterfield) hanging from the clock tower.

When I watch a movie, I never, never make a point of trying to ‘figure’ out the story, guess the next snap or try and guess ‘who-dunit’. However with Hugo it was just all too simple, it was kind of like watching Friends at some points, here’s actor a teeing it up, and there’s actor b smashing it out of the park.

You should also know it is set in France. It doesn’t ever say its set in France from what I remember but you know it is because you see the Eiffel Tower a few times. So, that said, it’s a bit of a hurdle to get over the fact that no-one has a French accent, or speaks French throughout the movie and there’s a lot of English actors in the movie mixed with American actors so you end up with this odd mix of accents going on. Whilst the story apparently follows Melies life quite closely that hurdle does stick. You get the feeling it wouldn’t if the movie grabbed you more.

Perhaps it’s me though, the movie follows Hugo as he loses his father to a fire and ends up with a clockwork automaton that they were trying to fix. His uncle (Ray Winston) takes Hugo to the Montparnasse station in Paris to look after the clocks and, when his uncle buggers off, Hugo carries on looking after the clocks with no-one in the station any the wiser.

But there are other characters in this movie that have quite big parts and stories of their own. Sacha Barron Cohen plays the station inspector who you get the impression is dying to do a “Good Mooning” style welcome given that for some reason he looks like the Police office from ‘Ello, ‘Ello! Christopher Lee plays a book store clerk, Richard Griffiths plays…erm…well I’m not really sure what he plays and Frances de la Tour plays, I think, the woman who runs the pastry shop, though she may just be a person who eats there a lot…with her dog…

And maybe that’s the issue right there, these other story lines don’t seem to go anywhere, don’t seem to have anything to do with the movie, it’s like Scorsese has included them for the simple reason of tugging at your heart strings. I like all the actors and actresses in the movie, it’s an amazing cast but for me, it doesn’t seem to know what it is.

Apparently Scorsese made the movie for his young daughter and maybe that’s why these cutesy moments are present whilst the rest of the movie, the homage to Melies, is really what he wanted to make, deep down?

I have to be honest, heck I’ve not really been much else thus far have I! But this film has me a little stumped.

Martin Scorsese

John Logan

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