Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
Reviewed on 2008 December 6
Dark, intense, and at times sickly funny version of the Stephen Sondheim musical, nicely gothed up by Tim Burton. Burton is one of the best directors I can think of for presenting dark and beautiful in the same package, and he doesn’t disappoint here. Getting Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter as leads didn’t hurt either.
Sweeney Todd (Depp) comes back to London after an exile, hardened, half-crazy, and looking for revenge. We figure he’s somewhat crazy from the look on his face and his opening words, a remarkably cynical duet with an innocent sailor (Jamie Campbell Bower, whose performance keeps that phrase from being an oxymoron). Todd has reason to be bitter, angry and vengeful. His life and family was torn apart by a corrupt man, Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman).
Todd wants to pay Turpin back right away, but he’s calmed down by Mrs. Lovett (Carter). Mrs, Lovett is a failed entrepreneur. Her meat pies just aren’t selling, probably because her kitchen is something from a health department worker’s worst dreams. She knows Todd’s story, and wants to help him, but she impresses upon him the need to be patient. As it so happens, maybe he can help her business, too.
I can’t think of any bad acting to come from either Carter or Depp, but they sang well here, too. There’s a great bit towards the end of the movie where Carter’s high, clear voice and the kind song she’s singing are in such contrast with the rest of the scene that it’s utterly creepy, and that’s just one great little tidbit in the movie. The set design is great too. It is bloody, at times surprisingly so. That’s not a complaint; I’m just saying it’s a lot grimmer than the also-wonderful version I first saw with George Hearn and Angela Lansbury.
Three chocolate morsels, and something vegan.