This past Sunday I went to see "Sweeney Todd - The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" at a local multiplex. I am a huge fan of Tim Burton's movies and a total sucker of his visual aesthetics and artistic direction. His trademark look of dark Gothic touches, gloomy lighting and muted color palette is easily recognizable in many of his great movies and "Sweeney Todd" is no exception and will please the true Tim Burton aficionado, like me. At times the movie will bring to mind Burton's past works like "Edward Scissorhands" and "Sleepy Hollow", vehicles that the title-lead Johnny Depp also starred in. Depp is fantastic as the torment Todd, returning to London after a 15-year forced exile in Australia, unfairly condemned of a crime. He has revenge on his mind for those who did him wrong and will stop at nothing to achieve his objectives.
Todd's devoted ally in his mission is Mrs. Lovett, played by the wonderful Helena Bonham Carter, that also happens to be Tim Burton's current wife, though nothing that detracts from her amazing talent. Mrs. Lovetts is the proprietor a bake shop that makes the "worst meat pies in London" to her own account. The pie shop - a roach infested dump - is located below Todd's new barber shop on Fleet Street and Mrs. Lovetts is the devoted landlady who secretly longs for his love.
Along the way they cross path with Signor Adolfo Pirelli, a faux-Italian snake oil salesman & rival barber, who plans on black-mailing Todd once he discovers his "secret" - but I will leave it at that not to spoil the movie's plot. Pirelli is played by the scene-stealing Sacha Baron Cohen, or Borat/Ali G for those in the know. His character is so full of panache that I wish he had had more screen time just to hear his delightfully thick Italian accent and right-on mannerisms. I did read somewhere that he purposely stuffed his britches to add more volume to his crotch, that is in very in-your-face in the movie.
"Sweeney Todd" is a musical by the way, and the movie was based on the Broadway play of the same name. At times it was tough for me to capture all the words they were singing, specially Mrs. Lovetts thick British accent, but that is no demerit to the movie. But what did bother me was the excessive amount of blood splashed across the screen. When I mean "excessive", I mean a blood bath! He is a razor-toting vengeful barber, so you get the drift. "The closest shave you will ever get" is one of Todd's great lines in the movie but I wish that the said scenes were less gory and explicit. I am not one for violence and carnage - I have to confess - but the all the repetitive images of open arteries gushing blood at you made me cover my face several times. OK, call me a wuss. I would edit-out a few of those unnecessary imagery to my taste and I assume that many will feel the same way. The movie was great (putting aside the bloody mess) and I do recommend it as a must-see for those who enjoy superb acting, great visuals and have a taste for hemoglobin! :-)