Sunday, January 06, 2008

Movie review: SWEENEY TODD

As I suspected, Tim Burton’s movie adaptation of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street belongs on my Best of 2007 list. So go ahead and add this bit to last week’s post.

I’ve seen the Stephen Sondheim musical on stage three times — once on Broadway with George Hearne and Angela Lansbury in 1980 — and I’ve loved the macabre opera from the start. And Burton has brought it to the screen brilliantly. Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter are perfection. Alan Rickman contributes his best performance in many years. And the extraordinary appearance of Sacha Baron Cohen (aka Borat) is a real surprise. And, by gawd, all these people can sing! Sondheim’s songs have been moved from the stage to the screen wonderfully.

Yeah, yeah,,,this movie is filled with dark, gory stuff. Sure, there’s bright red blood aplenty. But this is the gruesome tale of Sweeney Todd, after all. The original stage production was horribly (and, by turns, comically) grim. But I was smiling the whole time I sat in the theater watching this new Tim Burton masterpiece.

Sweeney Todd is a keeper.



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