Monday, 21 January 2008

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Review

Pineapple on a pizza, Gary Glitter in a childrens home, Me on a day off, somethings just don't work. Cockneys belting out high notes about old London town and the kind of violence you see in a torture porn film also shouldn't go well together. So does it work? Well read on, dear friend read on.

For those unaccustomed to the ways of the Todd (not the humorus sex-pest from Scrubs but the loveer-lee sex pot Johnny Depp) his is the tale of a Barber who slits his customers throats only for his partner in crime, pie maker Mrs Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter) to dispose of the evidence in said crust based food item. The original tale was that of a merciless thief killing for coins. This version, however, gives Sweeney a backstory that makes the tale one of vengeance. But this is no twee, fairytale of a man done wrong. Instead its a blood soaked tale with a tragic vein as thick as Symapthy for Mr.Vengeance or OldBoy.

The film plays a lot like a stage play (which isn't surprising as its based on one), with the action rarely moving from the bakery and the barbers of Fleet Street. And while you may have been prepared for the cast to burst into song, by the trailer and, well, the fact thats its a musical, you may not be quite prepared for how much singing there is. From the first line to the last barely a scene is fully spoken. Thankfully though everyone handles their singing roles well and most importantly the songs work. They are toe-tappingly entertaining and fit the narrative just as well as the dialogue, even if its fair to say you may not be singing along to them on the radio.

After the disappointment of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Depp and Burton partnership seems to be back on the dark track they both enjoy walking down. So in the end it works like sausages and mash, a junkie wanting a fix or Mel Gibson at a Palestinian convention. In other words, very well indeed.

No comments: