Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Date: April 3, 2008
Location: Clifton Living Room

As much a horror movie as a musical, Sweeney Todd is exceptionally graphic — I don’t think I’ve seen this many throats slashed in such a short time before in my life. And that bizarre mish-mash of genres is one of the best things the film has going for it, despite the queasiness it inspires. This ain’t Oklahoma.

Sondheim’s music is wonderful, and the actors are up to the task of singing the complicated tunes. The standouts for me were Johnny Depp and Alan Rickman’s duet on Pretty Women and a little boy (who probably has the best voice in the entire cast) singing Not While I’m Around. Those gorgeous melodies are enhanced by the melodrama surrounding them.

The story itself is a little thin — a typical revenge tale that relies much more on atmosphere than character. Depp is wonderful as always, and there isn’t a weak link in the cast. The grim subject matter and pervasive violence keep it from being the sort of thing I’d revisit often, but I’m very glad I saw it.

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