And surprised I was. Delighted, really.
Not wanting to give too much away for those of you also unfamiliar with this tale of historical-fiction, I will simply say that there are so many elements of this film to adore. I truly think you'd be hard pressed to find a viewer who isn't at least amused by the story, if not fantastically charmed as I was.
The historical background of this film centers on the life and works of filmmaker Georges Melies, played by Sir Ben Kingsley. (While watching the actual clips of Melies's films featured in Hugo, you may recall the Smashing Pumpkins' video for "Tonight, Tonight," which was shot as a stylistic homage to Melies. Bonus cool points.) The enchanting visuals typified by Melies's work were skillfully mirrored by Scorsese, creating a world that waltzes between adventures of fantasy and the cold obdurate reality of our characters, the journey between serving as the emotional heart of the film.
Set in 1930s Paris, the city is a character of its own right. (And we all know how much I love Paris.) The melding of classic Parisian icons with an ever-present, elegant clock motif and mysterious mechanical man had me grinning from ear to ear...even in the midst of tears. Visually, this is the stuff that really knocks my socks off.
Actor performances were great. I especially adored Sacha Baron Cohen as Inspector Gustav; awkward and humorous are clearly his forte, which served the role very well. Asa Butterfield's performance as the title-character was quite impressive. Those blue eyes? Forget about it.
Hugo is a visual feast and I left the theater feeling absolutely enchanted. If you're in the mood for a proper adventure, get thee to the theater and take in this whimsical treat.