Sweeney Todd

You can imagine it. Round at Dreamworks someone finds an old option down the back of the couch. blows the dust off it. Flippin’ ‘eck. we should give this to Tim Burton. On paper, the combination of every goth’s favourite film director and bloodsoaked musical Sweeney Todd makes perfect sense. And, deservedly so.

Think of Burton. Go on. What do you see? Whatever it is, it’s exactly how this film looks. Fantasy and fantastic. It’s the Victorian London of Jack The ripper and Fagin. Fantastically rendered in trademark near-monochrome. (There’s some really dodgy CGI under the titles, which – although a minor complaint – just seems sloppy.) It’s Burton at his most Burtonesque. Yet he manages not to slip into a caricaturing himself. Brilliant.

As is the cast. Johnny Depp in the titular role being gorgeous and mad. He pulls of a pretty good Anthony Newley impersonation for the singing which is considerably more impressive than his efforts in Cry Baby (which I like, BTW). Helena Bohnam Carter does the mad cat-lady thing she does these days. And provides a good enough foil for Depp.

Alan Rickmanout nasty’s himself in fantastic scenery chewing form. Timothy Spall is brilliant as his slimy sidekick. Looking to all intents as if he’s been plucked straight from a Dickensian engraving.

It’ll probably come as no surprise to know I’m no great fan of Sacha Baron Cohen. But, he turns in a fantastic cameo here. As celebrity barber Pirrelli he gets to do his silly voice, but in the grotesque/cartoonish setting it works. Unlike the misanthropic verité of most of his other work. And, also worth mentioning is newcomer Ed Sanders as a completely non-irritating singing kid. Older than his years and definitely not the last we’ll see of him.

Interestingly, that’s actually most of the cast. Except the ‘clean’ young lovers who are also perfectly decent. It’s just they have those parts that really don’t inspire any real interest.

But, (and you knew there had to be one) it’s a Stephen Sondheim musical. And I don’t care, he’s, frankly, rubbish. I mean have you actually listened to Send In The Clowns? No, really listened. It’s not the tune you think it is. Seriously, the melody that title makes you think of does not exist. It’s a tribute to how well made this film is that the direness of the source material cannot stop it being thoroughly entertaining. Well done all concerned.


Written by Tony Kiernan

31 January 2008 at 6:07 pm

Posted in Film

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