A CLOSE SHAVE?
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is Tim Burton’s latest effort. An adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s phenomenally successful musical, it stars Johnny Depp as the eponymous psychotic barber, Helena Bonham-Carter as his accomplice Mrs Lovett and a cast of impressive supporting thesps including Alan Rickman and Timothy Spall. I went to see it at a press screening last Friday as it doesn’t come out over here until the end of the month and I found that Sweeney Todd suffers from the same problems nearly all of Burton’s efforts do. It looks stunning and production designer Dante Ferretti, who has worked with Scorsese and Gilliam, does a magnificent job of bringing a gothic Victorian London to fantastic life but there is little emotional connection here between the characters and their audience. Sacha Baron Cohen’s cameo as snake oil salesman Pirelli is pointless and arbitrary. Having said that, Depp is very good indeed: he looks the part, inhabits the role well and his charismatic malevolence is a pleasure to watch on screen, while Rickman as the judge who slighted Todd years ago turns in a masterful performance. Bonham Carter isn’t terrible, although she does feel slightly miscast on occasion. Vocally the cast do themselves proud too as I was fairly skeptical as to whether the musical element would work but nearly all of characters are far too unsympathetic to feel any empathy with them. It is also very bloody and visceral on screen, making it quite unpleasant to watch. So Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is recommended to see once with some reservations…