Sweeney Todd is, at its core, ridiculous. At least in the sense that if the turns of the plot were translated into a non-musical, it would probably make for a half-decent Fear.net movie. You know, one of those they can pump out on a weekly basis. But, the thing is, musicals are inherently ridiculous. Unless you normally detail and solve your problems in song and dance. In which case, I commend you. But ultimately, I think Sweeney Todd works, and works well.I was particularly impressed with how everyone manage to reign the movie in. This production could easily have gone way over the top. But Tim Burton managed to effectively create a dark musical, as opposed to an absurdly ridiculous one. Sacha Baron Cohen, given his background and his role, could have put something way out there, but instead was, while still being somewhat larger than life, darkly funny.

Johnny Depp, to me, is on a level with Daniel Day-Lewis and Philip Seymour Hoffman, where if you believe in that sort of thing, each and every one of their performances should be a favorite for an Oscar nomination. Here, Sweeney Todd is a difficult character to portray well, since he is driven exclusively by mindless revenge. But Depp translates that into nuanced humanity. While his singing is certainly no great shakes, I absolutely think he deserves a nomination.

The movie had a few flaws. I wasn’t a huge fan of the casting of the street urchin. I liked a few of the songs, but found many to not be stupendous. And I think there is a fundamental flaw (with the story, not the particular production, I’d probably argue) that stops one’s feelings short of empathy, landing on sympathy. To me, I think the movie might need another song at the beginning, maybe a character that knew Benjamin Barker. Something to further suggest that the man had some shred of humanity. In any case, I found this to be a very good movie, but not one of the year’s best.

Oh, and as a side note, Alan Rickman rocks, as always.

Advertisements