Hugo is beautiful and nostalgic with an evident passion for history and surroundings. There’s an elegant recreation of a train station in France, bustling with commuters and personalities moving by a cafe and flower shop. Hidden inside the surrounding walls is an elaborate creation of dreamy passageways possibly done through splendid CGI. In these walls begins the story of a young boy who observes daily lives through the clock tower while secretly tending to the mechanism itself. His name is Hugo, an orphan and a genius. He likes to fix small mechanisms and gets tenacious about finishing the work by stealing parts from the lonely shop below. The surly owner suspects him one day and catches him in the act of taking a device. And from that moment onward, it slowly reveals that the shop owner was once a filmmaker and the boy is creating an Automatron.
This all comes together wonderfully. From a screenplay by John Logan, the film is like a nostalgic homage to the origins of filmmaking. The shop owner played by Ben Kingsley is Georges Méliès, the renowned, innovative French Film maker. Kingsley doesn’t disappoint in the role of this painfully nostalgic shopkeeper. He once was a passionate performer of illusions and visual effects for a crowd up to the time during the War when audience tastes changed. He choses to burn the film stocks in the aftermath. Helen McCrory as his wife Jeanne is given some valuable dramatic moments as his emotional protector. Chloë Grace Moretz is their Goddaughter Isabelle who brings enthusiasm and spirit as an eager admirer of literature. And Asa Butterfield is the boy Hugo, curious, fearful, and courageous. Also present is Sacha Baron Cohen playing the train stations rigid policeman and Emily Mortimer as a sweet lady working at the flower shop. There is a dreamy quality present and also sentimentality in looking back at a time when movies were beginning its wonder. The cinematography by Robert Richardson is imbued with creativity. The direction by Martin Scorsese feels inspired.