Monday, August 22, 2011

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

A barber returns home to Victorian London 15 years after being sent up the river on a bogus charge by a malevolent judge who also stole his wife and daughter. Hellbent on revenge, he opens a tonsorial parlor above a meat pie shop, and forms a sinister partnership with the eerie woman who owns it. "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" is an adaptation by John Logan of the dark Stephen Sondheim Broadway musical and often told story. It was directed by Tim Burton, a auteur who often brings his sensibilities to material that he shouldn't adapt, and always goes over the top with his stylings, often to his detriment. Here however Burton has found material perfectly suited to him, and he brings it to the screen in all its gothic beauty with surprising restraint. In the lead role, Johnny Depp is another one I've also had some qualms with, often being to bland and bringing to little to his roles. Again I was surprised and Depp is superb here in an Oscar nominated performance, doing his own singing along with the rest of the cast and perfectly conveying Todd's many dark and difficult emotions while also supplying believability to the character. We also get great supporting work from Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, and Sacha Baron Cohen in a brief and very funny role. I also liked how one story line was not followed up in the likelihood to avoid a happy ending. Due to its dark and gruesome nature as well as its wonderful musical numbers, "Sweeney Todd" is likely to appeal to a great number of people, and with Burton and Depp working at the top of their game with Sondheim's music, they are not likely to be disappointed.