Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street
Cast : Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter
Direction : Tim Burton
Rating : ****
A cross between a horror flick and an all-singing musical, the razor-sharp (pun very much intended) adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway show marks the sixth collaboration between the mercurial actor Johnny Depp and inventive filmmaker Tim Burton.
The director with a penchant for gothic fantasies (Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow) brings his signature visual panache to the plot about a barber who exacts murderous revenge on all those who once attempted to ruin his life. <b1>
Back in London, after spending several years in prison on trumped-up charges, the eponymous barber promptly resumes his trade. Only now, in fits of uncontrollable rage, he slits the throats of his clients.
The serial killer finds an accomplice in a love-struck neighbour (Carter) who is only too happy to be provided with a continuous supply of fresh meat for her lethal pies. In fact, the grisly goings-on could make viewers think twice before heading to the hairdressers, besides advancing the case for vegetarians.
In keeping with the spirit of its stage origins, the dialogue is almost entirely sung. By the way, none of the principal performers had sung professionally before. While their voices may lack finesse, they belt out the numbers full-throatedly.
Expectedly, the costumes and production design are splendid. The smog-soaked atmosphere of Victorian London is convincingly recreated.
Sacha Baron Cohen, the Borat comedian, conveys more than a dash of camp as the rival Italian barber. British stalwarts Alan Rickman and Timothy Spall make for appropriately diabolical villains.
Ultimately it’s Johnny Depp who dominates the show. However wacky, terrifying or sad you may find him, you simply can’t keep your eyes off him. Just for this actor for all seasons, the macabre musical is compelling viewing.