Martin Scorsese's new film continues something of a resurgence for the veteran director. The Departed (2006) was already a decent generic effort, but Shutter Island was one of the best films of 2010 and redeemed a lot of credit lost with the fatuous and inflated pomp of Aviator and Gangs of New York. Hugo is a film about childhood as much as it is a film for children, but here the children are not simply the people but the art form of cinema itself. There is a genuine joy of rediscovery and an enchanting idea of film as magic and wizadry, which follows on from books rather than competing with them. The comic touches stay within the bounds of the world of the film and add to it. The railway station, a world of comings and goings, that the characters all seem stuck in, as though it were some kind of purgatory, is wonderfully realised, a neverland of hidden passages and filigree iron work, as well as the occasional historic personage--was that James Joyce in the cafe?
Hugo himself is a fully realised little man who has already seen too much of the world. Ben Kingsley produced a performance which touches without slipping into sentimentality.
We have got used to seeing films, usually made under the auspices of Pixar, that can be enjoyed by adults and children, but this film places us on an equal footing and is inspiring and informative on an almost
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John Bleasdale is a writer. His work has appeared in The Guardian, The Independent, Il Manifesto, as well as CineVue.Com and theStudioExec.com. He has also written a number of plays, screenplays and novels.