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Sunday, September 14, 2008

'Sweeney Todd' - Stylish Barber-ism for a Musical

With a strong cast of the finest actors available, one of them arguably the most versatile of all times,
Sweeney Todd - The Demon Barber of Fleet Street' engages, enthralls and intimidates its viewers all at the same time. Tim Burton achieves what Tarantino killed in the womb in 'Kill Bill'. Who could have thought that a blood-fest, a sheer torment to the sensibilities of the weak-hearted, an instrument to inspire dread in the sane and the meek could be moulded into a musical. Men have done it first on stage and Burton's done rightful justice to it on screen. Sounds frivolous but I assure you that none of the deadly vigor of revenge, none of the monstrous facets of gore and flesh has been trivialized or euphemised with the song and dance ritual typical of musicals.

Where the story revolves around the life of a wronged barber and his lust for revenge can murder be far behind ? Johny Depp delves into the skin of the title character with usual aplomb and gives a performance worthy of a standing ovation. Playing a man tortured for no crime he committed, he plays both a grieving husband and a longing father with no family to show his love to. So, he channelizes all his emotions into a frightful rage and in his own way justifies the murder of ones who never did him any harm. He becomes both the judge and the executioner, ironically driven to the task by a judge himself ( Alan Rickman).

Helena Bonham Carter
( as Mrs Lovett ), the accomplished actress that she is, seems to have found her footing with a substantial role after a long while. Mrs Lovett is a guilty accomplice to the crimes and also a aspiring woman, longing for love and family. She plays the complicated female to perfection, both vicious and vile, while on the other hand she is all caring and affectionate. She scintillates as a complex mixture, a woman torn between emotional extremes, marked by warm benevolence and selfless love to Toby, the boy rescued from a London workhouse, whereas she is an epitome of witch-like manipulation of the barber's mind in order to gain his attentions.

I saw 'Donnie Brasco' and 'Sweeney Todd' in something of a back-to-back Johny Depp double-whammy at home today and I found that this one had Depp in full flow. Hence, this review. If you have seen him in 'What's Eating Gilbert Grape' you won't recognize him here. If you have lately seen 'Edward Scissorhands' chances are you will. With a white streak of hair, more stylish than eerie he wields his wares with razor sharp dexterity and comes out with the goods.

The film has its 'moments of truth', as every film worth its salt should, and for me it was when Todd, the barber decides to murder all and sundry and justifies it by saying,

"It's man devouring man, my dear
And who are we to deny it in here ? "

True. Bloody true.

posters: google


ad libber said...

I never recognize Depp in any of his movies. His versatility is mind blowing, to say the least. The man in Edward Scissorhands being the same man Blow is like a reading something on multiple personalities.
Will try to catch the movie soon *nudge, nudge, wink, wink*

Amazing Greys said...

i loooooooove johnny depp. i love everything he has ever done, including sweeny todd. =)

Bubbles of FireWhiskey said...

i absolutely love this movie... i cnt even begin 2 imagin wt it must hv lukd lk on broadway!!!

so happy u wrote this!