Wednesday, December 26, 2007
An Ocean of Blood
We saw Sweeney Todd a couple of hours ago. If you are a fan of the play, you will enjoy this movie. Well...I'm not so sure 'enjoy' is the right word. I have seen the movie of the play a couple of times, and while it's not a fave, I don't really have anything against it. I'm not a big fan of the dissonant music that permeates the stage show, but Sondheim is a genius even when he's using the musical equivalent of nails on a chalkboard. The movie sticks fairly close to the play, although it is a Reader's Digest condensed version, and most of the dissonance has been taken out. Johnny Depp is, of course, marvelous and broody as the barber who's life and family were stolen by a greedy judge(played by a deliciously slimy Alan Rickman). Helena Bonham Carter plays Mrs. Lovett, and while she usually plays crazy better than anyone else other than Christopher Walken, she was a bit too subtle in this movie. Angela Lansbury's barely contained hysteria really suited the part better than Bonham Carter's smoldering insanity. The second half of the film is classic Tim Burton in that once Sweeney starts killing we are treated to a steady supply of up close and personal throat slittings, with blood gushers that would have had the Monty Python people crying for a wee bit of restraint. My only real complaint with the movie regards the above dispatchings. Like he did in Sleepy Hollow, Burton seems to think that if the audience enjoyed watching one graphically depicted murder, they'll like a dozen. Repetition does not bring with it desensitization, and after the final throat is slashed I was just grateful that we didn't have to see any more. This is not a film for the squeamish. It is, however, a masterful screen adaptation of one of the darkest nights of theatre. Just one warning: if dinner and a movie are your thing, and Sweeney Todd is the movie, make sure that dinner comes first.