Sweeney Todd

This is a huge, masterfully filmed version of Stephen Sondheim's bloody classic. Who knew Tim Burton ("Beetle Juice," "Edward Scissorhands" and "Nightmare Before Christmas") could direct a musical? His confidence leaps off the screen and his eye for the eerie and the repugnant has never been so effective. The first solo by Mrs. Lovett, played by Helena Bonham Carter ("Corpse Bride" and "Fight Club"), about making meat pies (don't ask!) is absolutely teeming with cockroaches and her kitchen should be rated Grade Z! 1800s London is dark, dank and repellent, the people aren't quite clean, the streets are full of manure and rats, chimney pots belch soot and smoke, life is cheap, and death is bloody.

Burton shot several scenes with Todd and Lovett in which he used their reflections in a broken mirror. The effect is unique and spooky. Even the glass in the shop windows is wavy, like very old glass! That really impressed me.

You may already know the story...Young, blissfully happy couple has a beautiful baby girl and an idyllic life, but the husband is cruelly framed and convicted of a crime he didn't commit. He is transported to Australia for fifteen long years. When he finally returns to his old Fleet Street digs in London, Mrs. Lovett informs him that his wife is dead, so his sole focus becomes revenge. Revenge for the past fifteen years, revenge for his lost love and revenge for his broken family. Only the blood of the man who framed him, the dastardly Judge Turpin, played by Alan Rickman ("Something the Lord Made" and "Sense and Sensibility"), will squench his thirst.

The members of the cast were predominantly actors, not singers, but the result was surprisingly good singing. Johnny Depp ("Chocolat" and "Finding Neverland") had originally been in a band, so we knew he could play guitar and was musical, but he was untried as a singer. He went into seclusion for a few months and emerged ready to be "Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street." When he holds up the straight razor and extends his arm, he convinced ME as he gloats, "At last, my arm is complete!" In fact, the Bride of Frankenstein streak of silver in his hair makes him seem almost old enough to play this role! Alan Rickman's two duets with Johnny Depp are very well sung and Helena Bonham Carter has wanted to be Mrs. Lovett since she first saw the stage play when she was a child, so she OWNED her pieces. Ed Sanders, the boy who plays Toby, is just loveable enough that you sweat bullets when he is in jeopardy, as Mrs. Lovett croons a liltingly sweet song to him that echoes in the sewer, because YOU know she intends to do him in!

Be warned, there are disgusting body bits, hideous murders and....did I mention blood?