Monday, January 7, 2008

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Review

Having no experience with Sondheim's musical much of my excitement for this came from my love of Tim Burton. Burton is one of the most creative and exciting directors working today and the material, perverse and dark as it is, is perfect for his styl...(read more)e. I think this may well be the best performance of the great career of Johnny Depp. It took about 30 minutes for me to really get into this movie. In the earlygoings I was really put off by the performance of Jamie Campbell Bower, who is simply terrible. It isn't until Depp really takes a commanding center stage that things pick up. Even still, the film almost always lags when he is off screen. Back to Bower, who is so befuddlingly androgynous that he makes me feel sick to look at, he has a decent voice but is a simply pathetic actor. One of the primary reasons Depp's performance worked SO well for me was amazing facial acting during songs, Bower merely sings. Also weak was Jayne Wisener as Bower's love interest who has a slightly squeeky voice and provides just as little in the 'emoting' category as her lover to be. If the two of those roles were recast this could have been my favorite movie of the year instead they're the only things that really hold it back. Alan Rickman is delightfully snarling in the villain role while Sacha Baron Cohen does a nice job with a surprisingly decent voice in an over-the-top role. Cohen, of Borat fame, gets to play with two different accents and creates a memorable presense and may well have a post-Ali G future. Helena Bonham Carter is rather a strange, though beautiful, looking woman. Her singing voice is merely decent, certainly not up the level of Depp's, but she makes up for it with exceptional facial acting. She possesses enormous saucer sized eyes that allow her to imbue each expression and lyric with extra emotional impact as she stares at Depp maddeningly. But, as I already mentioned, Depp is amazing. His performance is both moving and mortifying. His singing is impressive. I hope Depp wins an Academy Award for this performance.

Overall Score: 8/10

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