Thursday, December 15, 2011

Absolutely Huge... I mean HUGO

Well, my friend Selena suggested we grab all the kiddies and hit the latest kid’s film this week. Hugo. I had no idea what it was about, but decided a matinee followed by pizza with a pile of kids and a dear friend sounded like a good idea to me.

In the first 20 minutes we were all so silly, I thought, this is never going to fly. Too much popcorn, soda and candy was making us all goofy and not exactly keyed in to the movie. And then, somewhere in that first half hour, something happened. It might have been the dreamy cinematography, or the outlandishly funny scene when Sasha Baron Cohen tries to woo his love interest, or the “adventure” the children partake ¬which whisked me back in time to the crazy adventures of my own childhood, or the slow unfolding of the story, like a Russian doll, each new layer as beautiful as the one before it… the prize inside only half as exciting as the journey getting there. Either way, as I looked down the aisle at the pile of kids from teenagers to the nine year old, all in rapt attention, I knew we were in for some magic.

This movie has guts. It addresses life purpose and passion, belonging and curiosity, taking chances, loss, starting over and vulnerability and above all … living. This movie is a love song to the beginnings of cinema and a love story about living life. Whooda thought Scorsese could top his own Taxi Driver, Departed, Goodfellas? And with a slow paced film that feels the equivalent of decadent French cuisine? Delicious, flavorful, unique and not to be rushed.

Watching the kids captivated by the snippets of silent movies in the film reminded me that we are NOT that jaded. If kids who have iPods and Wii games and laptops can laugh and tear up and FEEL the simple beauty of Hugo, I know there is hope for us yet. Scorsese walks us through a world of 60 years ago, a world of books and imagination, of hardship, of the ravages of war, of renewal. And yes, he walks, not runs. He, in one fell swoop, connects us with the universal desire for meaning, passion and belonging, while showing us a time and a place, not so very long ago, in which moments were savored, like a delicate pastry, not devoured like a fast food sandwich in a race against time.

I think this is Scorsese’s best. It’s not dark. It’s hopeful. Cautionary? Yes. Preachy? Not a bit. Way to go, Scorsese. When I look at those children and see swept away expressions, and glossy eyes and my kid leaves the theatre and the first words out of his mouth are, “Mom, we gotta get the book,” I know we’ve got something good. When my teenager says “I guess everyone has a secret side to themselves,” understanding the beauty of having a clandestine past, which we all do, I am fortified. For me, I suddenly feel a tug for a return trip to one of my favorite cities, Paris, or maybe at least a few hours in an old book store, and maybe a little more adventure and definitely the reminder that I must ALWAYS continue to do the work I love.

Thank you, Martin, for an amazing tribute to cinema, and to the passionate pursuit of life itself.

As far as the kids go, no swearing, no sex, nothing too scary, and even though this is a full two hours, it sure doesn’t feel that way.

Post movie discussion with the kids could include exploring the idea of purpose in one’s life, replacing harshness and rigidity with kindness, opening one’s heart after great pain, finding belonging, and the value of living life fully.

And, as Isabelle and Hugo said,

Isabelle: Are you sure about this? We could get into trouble.

Hugo: That’s how you know it’s an adventure!

Vivre pleinement sa vie!
Life life to the fullest!!


  1. Thanks for the review. Looking forward to seeing this over Christmas break.

  2. I totally agree! This was a magical movie for me, too.

  3. I only see movies upon the recommendations of friends. This is a no brainer. Can't wait for the experience!

  4. I am dragging my boyfriend to this one! I need a happy movie.

  5. Any movie that shows my favorite city, Paris, is what I want to see. I think that city is the most beautiful place on earth. Anonymous, you should drag your boyfriend there!

  6. Hi I'm Heather! Please email me when you get a chance, I have a question about your blog! LifesABanquet1(at)