With a huge sigh of longing, I just don’t know where to begin with this compelling homage. But it reminds me of how amazing the synchronicity and irony in the mix of life and art can be. Not but just mere days after a lengthy discourse and agreement with a respected peer about the demise of passion, creativity, and attention to detail in the world of filmmaking, I am led to you.
And almost like you were personally affronted by such speculation, you invite me in and dare me to not be touched by your world. I will admit the speculation of others had me go out of my way to take in your story, in 3D, and at first I’m not sure what to say.
Let us start with this out of sight world of the boy, Hugo. It is instantly both voyeuristic and intimate while simultaneously separate and so very solitary from the world around it. The boy is doing a man’s job and it is an amalgam of emotional and spiritual comforts and conundrums. It is also a nadir and Valhalla for fans of Steampunk and that desire and understanding for the ballet of mechanical motion. This alone is the first of many revelations in the story and at this point I know that I am watching something very different from what I was lamenting days ago.
As I settle into the comfort of this odd 1930’s world, I meet the cast of characters that populates and breathes life into this city-microcosm that is a Paris train station. From the masterfully portrayed shell of a man that Ben Kingsley brings to life to the and the supremely villainous Station Inspector that Sacha Baron Cohen infuses with menace, all the players in this unassuming fairy tale come vividly to life under Maestro Scorsese’s gifted hand and for once the 3D only enhances the magic that is already there. Even the wonderful Chloë Grace Moretz, fresh from her brilliant Kickass turn, brings a deft and sweet touch to her role of Georges’ ward, and she is equally as compelling.
It’s all so lush, vibrant. It is effortless, to get lost in this domain of wonder and genius. I instantly long to read “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” on which it is based, just to see what my mind’s eye would come up with in place of such wonder that splashes effortlessly across the screen. As we continue and meet Hugo’s dad before his mishap and make our acquaintance with the legendary Automaton, it’s as if the wonders of this story will just never cease. And of course I am only half right. When we find out whom Georges REALLY is, it is astonishing, not only in that it pays homage to his work as I mentioned at the outset, but that it does so in the most grand way possible. I can almost imagine The Maestro swelling up with emotion and pride at his spectacular reenactments of Georges Méliès ground breaking work in the infancy of film. This brilliance simultaneously uplifts and establishes the heart break that was then and what is now for Georges and as a film institute curator shows the only copy known to exist of his work to Georges’ wife the master of the house catches them and paints this picture of his past glory and we learn where the home of the Automaton resides.
Of course, Hugo must run the gamut of the station inspector to hope to retrieve such pricelessness. But he never wavers and it is like destiny, purely right and oh so important to this young boy.
While Hugo is grasped in the hands of the inspector at the moment of truth with his future on the cusp, Georges does what is needed to make your heart sing, shortly to be followed by the final moment of homage to his work that brings to mind only such lofty and rare examples of purity and grace, that films such as A Beautiful Mind or Chaplin have enjoyed. Not only does it resonate, it’s a moment in the sun for both Mr. Kingsley and the Maestro that is beyond richly deserved. It’s perfect!
Martin, to you I bow deeply and sweep my hat away as floridly as I can muster, because you may very well have restored much of my lost faith and there is no adequate thank you for that, but also with your heralded past to see this come from you after such a distinguished career is truly a gift. I will count this in your top 5 all time for me personally, right next to Raging Bull, Color of Money, Taxi Driver, and The Departed.
Thank you, Sir, thank you deeply and may we meet many times again in this Paris Train Station.