The mixed reviews I’ve read and heard of Sweeney Todd do not echo my experience. It’s a wonderful film and I loved it. End of story.
Well, ok, not “end of story” or there’d be no blog entry and it wouldn't be me. Anyone who’s read anything I’ve ever written or spent more than a half an hour talking to me KNOWS I am given to critique and I do not praise uncritically.
(I hate having to write that. It’s so nerdy. But I know, people want it.)
No, Johnny Depp did not have the power in his voice that one desires from someone playing Sweeney Todd and singing that dark yet witty Sondheim music. Yes, Helena Bonham Carter was too delightfully corseted and costumed to play a character that Sweeney is repelled by because she’s not one of the “pretty women” he and his nemesis and mirror Judge Turpin sing of. And Alan Rickman was arguably wasted here; the role demanded little and gave little back. Ok, the supporting cast (Johanna, Anthony, and especially Toby) outsang all the lead characters. And golly no, I did NOT need to see the heads bounce and smash on the floor over and over when they slid down out of Sweeney’s barber chair of doom nor Mrs. Lovett burning to death in close-up.
But then, the gore was mitigated by the blood looking nothing like real blood and how well it fit into the black-white-red color scheme that Tim Burton uses so well. Helena Bonham Carter’s pretty high notes offered a gorgeous contrast to her grotesque behavior and she had the character of Mrs. Lovett down perfectly. Sacha Baron Cohen is an astonishingly brilliant comedian and his ability to do voices and accents is a wonder to behold (as was his wig and costume). I can watch Alan Rickman do anything, anytime. And Johnny Depp is…well…Johnny Depp. Who could look away for a moment, regardless of how talk-singy or weak rock-operaish his voice was at times. He was still a spectacle unto himself.
I bought the whole package, from gorgeous sets and Burton’s unmistakable style (that turned humans into living stop-animation) to the opportunity to hear the glorious Sondheim music on screen.
Go see it. And enjoy.