"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

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