I approached Sweeney Todd with trepidation, accepting been underwhelmed with most of Tim Burton’s contempo achievement and every screen musical of the decade. The biggest problem I have with Burton’s films is that his screenplays rarely manage to pull their disparate elements into a acceptable whole. Here, adapting the actual to his own sensibilities and abridgement the comedy by an hour, he adheres carefully to Sondheim’s book, consistent in the most dramatically acceptable film Burton has ever made.
Sweeney Todd / Johnny Depp
I admired the adjustment of the off-off Broadway Hedwig and the Angry Inch, but have been left underwhelmed by all the recent big budget film musicals, so I’m glad to say that Sweeney Todd, wipes the floor with every major screen musical of the last decade, including the agreeable if over continued Hairspray. Most surprising is how shockingly gruesome the the film becomes in the second half. The abandon violence escalates towards the end leading towards a climax that is exhilarating, heartbreaking and satisfyingly bleak.
Sondheim’s score is a joy to listen to from beginning to end, its dark romanticism sometimes reminding me of Bernhard Herrmann, perfectly fitting what is both a musical and a horror film in equal measures. Depp and Bonham Carter are both excellent and their performances that I never quite lost sympathy with them in their descent into madness, blood lust and cannibalism.
Musical haters may not be converted as 75% percent of the dialogue is sung, but this absolutely dispatches any angle of arid sentimentally the genre is generally associated with.
(Remember to be careful when shaving…)