Wednesday, 13th December 2017. 3:42:06pm ET
Reviews Movie Reviews Sweeney Todd

Tim Burton’s adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s 1979 musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is set in the gothic beauty and alarmingly moody undertones of 19th century London. Sweeney Todd must and most importantly be first looked at as a love story turned grim, leaving the main character Benjamin Barker (Johnny Depp) with a barren soul and merciless heart when he, a once good and honest man, a loving and devoted husband, father, and uniquely gifted barber was wrongly accused of a crime, and sent to prison by the crude and deceiving Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman) whose cruel act put upon Benjamin was in a fit of jealously to claim his wife, Lucy, and their daughter, Johanna, and make them his family. And that went tragic for Lucy and Johanna, in many different ways.

 

When Benjamin escapes 15 years later, he longs to see his wife and child. When that dream is no longer fated, he begins a calculating plan of seeking out those who did him wrong, and have them pay with their lives. He no longer calls himself Benjamin Barker, for that part of his life is dead to him. Now going by Sweeney Todd, he’s driven only by his revenge and with his reputation as the best barber in town---a cut above anyone else.

 

Sweeney is soon recognized by Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter), the proprietor of a meat pie shop, who knew him as Benjamin Barker, and who’ll keep his secret by helping him carry out his wicked plan by disposing of the evidence of his gruesome crimes. That favor in return boosted Mrs. Lovett’s business with her new meat pies selling out faster than the bodies can be murdered to make them---I mean the pies can be cooked.

 

I do love a good story of revenge—and dabbling with elements of horrific visuals and sharp sarcasm can be quite fascinating. It pains me though as much as I enjoy musicals, and for the genius acting of Johnny Depp who impressed me with his singing capabilities, and for Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, and Sacha Baron Cohen standouts in their own right, to have to say that I would have preferred to not have Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street a musical. Sweeney Todd is such a tragic tale, and one of delicious and horrific revenge, having all the makings of a classic story of love, revenge, and horror laid out in stunning details. Let me clarify though, in regard to where I said I would’ve preferred to have this story not play out as a musical, it’s only because when I was listening to, and watching the pure and riveting emotion spewed out by Johnny Depp’s character, sheer genius was created---I felt his crippling agony over his losses, and his growing hatred toward those who gutted his life right from underneath his beating heart, and for taking his family away, leaving them in fear and hopelessness.

 

Secondly for the intense scenes where one was sure it were leading up to throats being slashed in glorious victory, instead, had the characters break out in song, which slightly deflated my moment of empathy toward Sweeney’s motive---then when the deepest cut was made, the thick, bright, finger-paint like blood gushed like a kindergarten classroom art project gone disastrously wrong. Enough, so, to make those moments lose some of their magic, compared to what could have been moments of chilling and unspeakable shock appeal.

 

But…and it’s a vital but…Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a masterpiece of performances, direction, storylines, and atmosphere and no reviews, no matter how disenchanting will take any of those gifts away.

 

Johnny Depp’s mesmerizing performance brought Sweeney to life. And as his character became more provocative, cryptic, and mechanical, his mind did too. Devouring reason and logic from his escalating state of murderous intentions to those with whom he had no vendetta against, because killing came now without a conscience or meaning...it sadly became a vicious cycle of pure evil, rather than a mission of seeking justice. And with all that darkness hovering around, there was no room to see what was truly in front of him all along, until it was too late.

 

Isn’t it time for the exceptional and illustrious screen transformations of one of the finest actors to grace our generation---Johnny Depp, and the pristine and phenomenal artistry of director of Tim Burton to receive their embarrassingly way over due acknowledgments? Johnny Depp and Tim Burton may be the best dishes on their respective menus to be served gold this year, by Oscar himself.

 

For more on Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street check out: http://www.sweeneytoddmovie.com


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