Paris, 1931. Young Hugo (Butterfield) maintains the clocks of a great railway station while avoiding a guard (Baron Cohen) intent on sending him to an orphanage. Aided by Isabelle (Moretz), Hugo gets an automaton left by his late father working. It draws a picture, which prompts the children to delve into the mystery of an unhappy shopkeeper (Kingsley) at this very station.
It may be too rarefied for kids raised on rapping penguins and Chipmunks sequels, but offers excitement and enchantment in equal measure and is likely to become a lasting favourite. Scorsese is film historian enough to recreate early cinema in perfect detail, but Hugo's plot is set in motion by a heart-shaped key. This is a great director's greatest love story.
Reviewed by Kim Newman
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