In Martin Scorsese's Hugo, Asa Butterfield plays Hugo Cabret, a wide-eyed boy whose clockmaker father dies unexpectedly, leaving the kid to be raised by his drunken Uncle Claude, who keeps the clocks running at a Paris train station. Rather than be gathered up as just another orphan and given over to authorities by the arch-villainous Station Inspector, Hugo lives in the station’s walls, stealing croissants and milk to get by.
One day he meets a luminous, educated young woman, Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz), who introduces him to the colorful characters at the station that he’s spent so long avoiding. One of them is her de facto papa, a cranky toy shopkeeper named Georges (Ben Kingsley), who has a mysterious connection to the broken clockwork automaton Hugo’s dad left behind.
The maze of connections between Isabelle, the station, the automaton, the toy maker, and everything in between leads Hugo on a magical journey that’s surprising and touching at every turn. By inextricably linking our experience now with that of audiences past, Scorsese draws a direct line from early movie-making dreamers to today’s torch-caring filmmakers. It’s a deeply personal work and a majestic love letter to the cinema. --Justin Strout