A story about an orphan (played by Asa Butterfield) who lives in a train station in Paris and has a robot that his father left him after his death. He tries to make it work by stealing gears and the like from a toy shop owned by Georges Méliès (Sir Ben Kingsley).
The movie is visually nice on the eyes and interesting to see as Hugo weaves himself through the intricate train station with its many clocks and gears it supposedly has. The entire station looks bright and welcoming and most of the actors within are generally uplifted and in a good mood. The costumes are well done and Sacha Baren Cohen as the inspector of the station plays a, finally, decent role where he isn’t trying to set a political statement but instead a simple inspector, injured from the great war and trying to make sure the station stays clear of orphans for the most part. Sir Ben Kingsley plays the washed up store owner very nicely and Chloë Grace Moretz as Isabelle, another orphan who was adopted by “papa” Georges.
The story is light-hearted and it is clearly more of a fairytale story that aims towards a happy ending and it does not disappoint in that aspect. The entire movie is more aimed at a retrospective view of the past of cinematographic culture, much like The Artist. This becomes evident in the latter half of the movie, once the mystery of the “robot” or automaton is clarified. It is hard for younger generations such as myself included, to comprehend the hardships and toil the past generations had to go through with two wars. I for one hope we never have to endure such atrocities nor our children or their children. But this movie appears to show that although it was a suffering past, the people kept high hopes and continued on with their lives. A majority of the cast orphans it is clear that they seek unity in a family and find it with their friends that they make along the way within the train station. Pretty obvious symbolism there, don’t you think? A place where all the people come together, a train station, and find one another. A bit romantic too. I like that.