Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

To add more variety to the growing catalogue of reviews here, I decided to look over a certain barber’s tale and post up my thoughts. After all, the only other musical I’ve reviewed is “Mamma Mia!”. Oh dear. Anyway:

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

I’m not a fan of musicals and I’m eternally annoyed by Tim Burton. I was pumped up, hate-filled and ready to rant about it afterwards when I saw it. But damn it all if I didn’t get sucked in and caught up in the plot. You win this round, Mr. Burton!

“You’re in a merry mood today, Mr. Todd…”

The film is the story of Benjamin Barker (Johnny Depp), a wronged man who returns to London after exile and is hungry for revenge. He assumes the name of Sweeney Todd and opens a barber shop above Mrs. Lovett’s (Helena Bonham-Carter) pie shop. It’s all marvellously macabre. It’s dark, dingy and so damn gothic it makes you want to forsake the sunlight and paint your face white. I like the whole washed-out look of the film. You can say what you want about Burton, but at least his films are visually interesting. “Sweeney Todd…” is the pinnacle of this in my opinion. It just looks beautiful.

The casting of this film seems to be spot on. Depp, although occasionally slipping back into Jack Sparrow, is pretty damn good as Todd. He actually makes a serial killer likable and sympathetic- a hard task, I’m sure you’ll agree. I really liked Helena Bonham-Carter as Mrs. Lovett too. She treads the line between scary and sexy very carefully and it works. I have a saying: “If you can cast Alan Rickman as a villain- do it”. Luckily, Burton thought along the same lines and cast him as the odius Judge Turpin- the main focus of Todd’s revenge plan. Special mention to Sacha Baron Cohen too with his fantastic Adolfo Pirelli.

What I really loved about this film was that it doesn’t pull any punches. It’s very, very gory. I’m not really a fan of gore but at least it suits the film. I hate films that seem to be holding back just to get the money-making PG-13 certificate- there’s no artistic reason for it, it’s sheer greed. Thankfully, “Sweeney Todd…” stays true to its grisly roots and has spilt claret by the bucketful.

“There was a barber and his wife, and she was beautiful/A foolish barber and his wife.”

So with some fantastic songs, great acting and casting and a genuinely interesting visual take on proceedings, I can’t help but give “Sweeney Todd…” full marks. It’s brilliant.

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