Rated R for graphic bloody violence.
2 Hours and 27 Minutes
Directed By: Tim Burton
Written By: John Logan and Stephen Sondheim
Staring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Sasha Baron Cohen, Jamie Campbell Bower, and Jayne Wisener
No! Not Barker. That man is dead. It’s Todd, now. Sweeney Todd. And he shall have his revenge… -Sweeney Todd
An honest barber in London by the name of Benjamin Barker has a lovely new wife and child, but the Judge who runs the city takes a liking to Barker’s little family. So much that he frames Barker with a crime he did not commit. After fifteen years of being incarcerated Barker has returned in search of his wife and daughter, only to discover his wife poisoned herself years before and the judge has held his daughter Johanna in his guardianship. Looking unidentifiable from his former self Barker calls out revenge and denies his former being. He has now taken on the persona of Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber From Fleet Street, and he will not stop until he has his revenge.
The cinematography of this movie is quite possibly the best I’ve seen in a Tim Burton film, which is a considerable feat. The gritty appearance of London brings my imagination to a time when Jack The Ripper ruled the streets and the city was filled with darkness and fear. The paleness of skin, and the greys and blacks make for a very ominous and depressing feeling, where hope lies dormant buried in a locked box with no key.
Tim Burton has an insatiable knack for being able to portray the tortured soul in a way that makes them easily embraced and almost heroic. Perhaps there is reluctance at times, but heroic actions nonetheless. Sweeney Todd is the essence of a tortured soul trying to find meaning in the darkness of his existence, but for him he will find no relief until his final stroke of vengeance is met.
Sweeney Todd is a very different movie for Burton, not just because it’s a musical, but because of it’s very complicated plot with many character’s with very different but very powerful motivators that drive each of them throughout the entirety of the film.
The depth to where Sweeney Todd’s madness drove him and the final scenes remarkable shocks and surprises make the ending horrifying and perfectly poetic at the same time. What a delectable lesson about letting vengeance rule our lives. It only leads to even darker places and a remorse that is unforgivable.
Johnny Depp delivers yet another amazing performance. He is truly one of the most gifted actors of our time. Not only does he play a demented, maniacal, vengeance driven man, he is singing while doing it. He is obviously not a trained singer but his voice has a very enjoyable musicality about him that works for Todd’s character. In fact he was shockingly good. Alan Rickman is such a gifted actor. His performance in Sweeney shows his strong ability to play a villain very unlike anyone else. He countered Depp’s performance perfectly, and they both made a balance in the film. Just an observation, but it occurs to me that Helena Bonham Carter may be growing tired of wearing black eye makeup, though she is still stunning in her madness. She, like Depp, fits into Tim Burton films like a Butcher to his blade. The supporting cast was remarkable. It was an entrancing ensemble.
It is rather clear why this film has been given an “R” rating, and quite simply I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone who doesn’t enjoy the sight of blood, but for people who haven’t enjoyed Tim Burton’s past work, this is a film you may find a differing opinion in. While it may contain your typical Tim Burton touches of elegant darkness and visuals, this is a completely different film for him. I implore anyone to rent this. It is not my favorite Tim Burton film, but it is certainly some of his best work. It was a film full of amazing acting, stunning visuals, a fantastic score with brilliant songs, and an engaging story. It was certainly one of the best movies of the year. I rate Sweeney Todd Four out of Four bloody stars.