Saturday, December 22, 2007

Bloody British Barber

Well, you had to know that I would go to see Tim Burton's movie version of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, a musical featuring a serial-killing barber played by Johnny Depp. Lots of blade work, blood, and cannabalism too! What's not to love? This is an absolute must-see for anybody with a love of violent cinema--one older gentleman staggered down the stairs during the film as if he was going to the bathroom to vomit. Of course, I loved the film.

Seriously, though, this is a terrific movie, with great music, great acting, and a fair amount of humor. The storyline is operatic and tragic--a family is destroyed by an act of injustice, and, later, a potential family never comes to be due to deep flaws in the would-be mother and father. Both characters have fatal obsessions--him with the judge who took his family and sent him into exile; she with him. His rage leads him to kill people; her obsession with him leads her to concoct an interesting method of disposing of the bodies. She is interested in having a future with him and an urchin she takes in; he has no interest in any future with anybody except the judge he wants to murder. The urchin sees her as a potential mother, but begins to suspect that Sweeney is bad news. The parallel storyline involving an optimistic young sailor and Sweeney's daughter is interesting too; as they come closer to freedom and a life together, Sweeney is desending into insanity.

Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter are fabulous as usual. His singing voice starts off a bit weak--especially up against the actor playing the sailor (Jamie Campbell Bower), whose voice is simply gorgeous. Depp's singing, however, gets much better as the movie goes along. It could be that he became a better singer through experience, or it could be that he only really finds his voice once he starts slashing people. Alan Rickman (Snape in the Harry Potter films) is the evil Judge Turpin, and his performance is as good as one would expect. I was very impressed by the child actor Ed Sanders, who played the urchin Toby. His almost-mother/son scenes with Bonham-Carter are convincing and heartbreaking, and the look in his eyes in the movie's final scene is both sad and terrifying. Indeed, his eyes look very much like Sweeney Todd's. I noticed that Sweeney Todd was nominated for a few Golden Globe awards before it was even relased. It wouldn't surprise me to see the film also nominated for a number of Oscars.

1 comment:

Maddy said...

I don't usually enjoy musicals but DAvid Edelstein had it as one of his top 10 so that's enough for me.

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