All Articles

Film Review - Sweeny Todd

Never one to tread an obvious path the latest film by Tim Burton is a film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s critically acclaimed 1970’s musical about the demon barber of fleet street.

No one who who is a fan of Burton will be surprised to hear that Jonny Depp (switching from Keith Richards to Bowie for his performance cue) and Helene Bonham Carter play the main characters. The plot for those of you not familiar with the story is kind of The Count of Montechristo with the addition of some razor slashed throats. Evil judge Alan Rickman frames Benjamin Barker so he can have his wicked way with his wife and daughter. Fifteen years later he
returns in the guise of Sweeny Todd and begins a campaign of murder aided by the lovesick Mrs Lovett erstwhile pie vendor and sometime human butcher.

The film is up to Burtons usual superb standards and it is safe to say if you are a fan you aren’t going to be disappointed, but it’s not going to change the mind of critics.

To say the film is gory would be an understatement. It contains more gruesome scenes of closeup throat slashing and blood jetting than any film I’ve seen except perhaps Kill Bill and that might be a box office problem. I’m not convinced that the musical and extreme gore demographic has that much crossover, (as the difficulty I had finding somewhere that was showing it confirms) but Burton has to be admired for his decision not to go for the soft option and tone it down for a 15 certificate. I just hope that it doesn’t tank and deprive the world of more of his surreal masterpieces because for those that do love a jaunty tune juxtaposed with a spurting carotid you will find few finer films.

Published 17 Feb 2008

    Engineer & Musician
    Nick Long on Twitter