"Seamless, coherent, and vibrant, with [. . .] haunted and musically adept lead performances"–VARIETY gives SWEENEY TODD a great review

VARIETY’s Todd McCarthy has joined the chorus of major critics giving excellent reviews to Tim Burton’s film adaptation of SWEENEY TODD. “Both sharp and fleet, SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET proves a satisfying screen version of Stephen Sondheim’s landmark 1979 theatrical musical,” writes McCarthy. “Where much could have gone wrong, things have turned out uniformly right thanks to highly focused direction by Tim Burton, expert screw-tightening by scenarist John Logan, and haunted and musically adept lead performances from Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.”

Although “[s]ome Broadway purists will gripe about how the film of SWEENEY TODD omits and abridges certain songs,” McCarthy notes, “Burton and his cohorts have [. . .] imaginatively reconceived the piece as a work of cinema; strictly in film terms, SWEENEY is seamless, coherent and vibrant, with scarcely a trace of ‘Broadway.’ “

The reviewer has high praise for Tim Burton’s direction: “Eschewing trademark mannerisms and flights of fancy, and yet fully imprinting the film with his signature, Burton strongly delivers the dark core of this story,” says McCarthy. “Burton stages the singing sequences with precision and fluidity; as most of them are intimate one-or-two-person affairs and not production numbers in the traditional sense, he approaches them as he would dramatic scenes, in degrees of closeup and with an emphasis on content and forward movement. [T]his represents one happy instance of a film made by a director without stage experience that genuinely serves the intentions of the original piece.”

VARIETY also praises Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in the iconic roles of Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett. “Heavy curiosity will center on how Depp, in particular, manages the vocals (all the actors performed their songs themselves). The answer is, perfectly well, thank you,” says McCarthy. “The ever-resourceful thesp doesn’t take the half-measure of sing-speaking in the manner of Rex Harrison or Richard Burton, but puts across his many numbers with an agreeable voice that effectively registers the lyrics’ import. The same goes for Bonham Carter, a similarly untrained vocalist, who works in the same vein of successfully acting her role through song. There is deeply buried emotion and charged motivations in both characters that Depp and Bonham Carter consistently express.”

The Zone thanks Ventoux for sharing the VARIETY review; you can find it on the Zone’s News & Views forum, or read it in its entirety here: http://tinyurl.com/33rc44 Congratulations to the cast and crew of SWEENEY TODD! –Part-Time Poet

"Johnny Depp is a Sweeney Todd for the ages"–The Hollywood Reporter gives SWEENEY TODD a rave review

“Bottom line: Bloody good,” declares Kirk Honeycutt of THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER in his review of Tim Burton’s SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET. Regarding Johnny Depp’s performance in the leading role, Honeycutt says, “Johnny Depp is a Sweeney Todd for the ages,” and as for Tim Burton’s direction, “the show couldn’t have fallen into better hands.” Adapting a classic Broadway musical for the screen, particularly one with such tragic, non-traditional subject matter, is both artistically and commercially risky–as Honeycutt writes, “It’s 19th century London and everyone is singing, but when arterial blood sprays from the opened throat of Signor Adolfo Pirelli, you know this is no MY FAIR LADY.” Instead, Honeycutt compares the film to Burton’s SLEEPY HOLLOW, “where heads rolled like so many bowling balls,” adding that SWEENEY TODD “places its emphasis on Grand Guignol and the deeply human story of twice-lost love and the horrifying destructiveness of revenge.”

“In choosing actors who can carry a tune as opposed to singing-actors, Burton has wisely gone for the tragic, emotional heart of the story,” says Honeycutt. “Depp is the movie’s heart and guts. His Sweeney, nee Benjamin Barker–having escaped false imprisonment in Australia after 15 years–is ruled by revenge upon his return to London. [. . . .] Depp plays Sweeney as a man so focused on death, so committed to blood, that he has lost all touch with life. [Helena Bonham] Carter’s amoral Nellie Lovett, her hair apparently combed with an egg beater, is herself obsessed with Sweeney. She imagines an impossible life with him without realizing he is unmoored from any reality in which this might take place.”

As for all that blood we’ve heard so much about, Honeycutt finds it an appropriate artistic choice: “Burton pushes this gore into his audiences’ faces so as to feel the madness and the destructive fury of Sweeney’s obsession. Teaming with Depp, his long-time alter ego, Burton makes Sweeney a smoldering dark pit of fury and hate that consumes itself. With his sturdy acting and surprisingly good voice, Depp is a Sweeney Todd for the ages.”

Many thanks to Ventoux for posting the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER review on the Zone–you can find it on the News & Views forum in the thread, “Reactions to ST Screenings.” You can also read the Hollywood Reporter review here: http://tinyurl.com/32ru3k –Part-Time Poet

BREAKING NEWS–Johnny Depp attends the premiere of SWEENEY TODD in New York City tonight!

Looking dashing and debonair in a black double-breasted suit, black shirt, and blood red tie, Johnny Depp arrived at the premiere of SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City tonight. Joining him were the film’s director, Tim Burton, producer Richard Zanuck, and his castmates Alan Rickman, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jamie Campbell Bower, Laura Michelle Kelly, Ed Sanders, and Jayne Wisener. Composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim and screenwriter John Logan attended, as did a former co-star of Johnny’s . . . Rolling Stone Keith Richards. Many thanks to bonnie, AnaMaria and Carasun for bringing us premiere pictures–you can see a larger version of the close-up of Johnny here: http://tinyurl.com/ywuako To see a full-length view of Johnny on the red carpet, click here: http://tinyurl.com/2cbl43 You can read more about the premiere on the Zone’s message boards. –Part-Time Poet