A visually beautiful, very well choreographed & engrossing drama that is emotionally captivating, but at the same time very dark, violent & saddening to watch, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is, arguably, the darkest musical to come out in cinema history. The film tells the story of an ordinary man named Benjamin Barker, who had everything until a man of power, Judge Turpin, stole his freedom, destroyed his family & banished him for life. And in his sorrow, a new man was born. He returns not as Barker but Sweeney Todd to have his revenge with the help of his accomplice, Mrs. Lovett.
Director Tim Burton, notable for the dark themed motion pictures on his résumé, and actor Johnny Depp, notable for playing eccentric characters with stunning panache, re-unite once again to give their fans another engrossing story of an exciting character, only this time it is blended with a strong theme of murder & revenge. This is Tim Burton’s darkest masterpiece to date which is very well-written, is highly impressive to look at with its superb use of sets & lighting and is transcended to a whole new level by some truly mesmerizing performances.
Johnny Depp, with this film, delivers one of the finest performances of his illustrious career & it’s my personal favourite of his. Depp makes Sweeney Todd completely his own and his voice, even the make-up & mannerisms very much suited the complexity of his character. Helena Bonham Carter too delivers an equally mesmerizing performance as Mrs. Lovett and throughout the film challenged Depp’s magnetic presence on-screen unlike anyone in the past, which was pretty exciting to see. Alan Rickman plays Judge Turpin, the antagonist and even he had his wonderful moments, best being the segment of ‘Pretty Women’ with Depp. Other supporting performances also put in a lot into this film. With a cast comprising the above three and also featuring Timothy Spall (Beadle Bamford), Sacha Baron Cohen (Pirelli), Jamie Campbell Bower (Anthony), & Ed Sanders (Toby) who was very impressive, the bar was raised but the expectations are pleasantly met.
Coming to the technical aspects, The Art Direction team beautifully painted the picture of London and Cinematography made it darker than it has ever been. Editing is smooth, costumes & make-up are very much accurate to its era. The visual effects are good except that the look of blood isn’t very convincing, which was a let down in my opinion but the sight of people bleeding to death makes up for it. And finally, the music by Stephen Sondheim synchronised effortlessly with the film’s dark theme. From the opening title to the final sequence, Sondheim’s score & songs kept the theme of revenge alive throughout its runtime & accomplished its goal of amplifying the overall experience of this film.
All in all, Sweeney Todd is one film that no Depp or Burton fan can miss. And, those who can digest musicals or violence, must check this out to experience the very same dish with an entirely different taste. Musicals were rarely this dark yet I enjoyed every bit of this wonderful piece of cinema. The tale of a 19th century London barber with revenge on his mind & a blade in his hand has it all: blood, mystery, romance, wit, exhilarating music, stunning visual design & last but not the least, a truly heartbreaking story. Shouldn’t be missed. Need a shave? A close shave?? Sweeney is waiting. Never Forget. Never Forgive. Highly recommended.