Monday, February 04, 2008

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Film review. I can't remember the exact where, but i had remembered that London was best associated with the color grey (probably it's from one of those Sherlock Holmes book, but can't be sure). Bleak, and grim. Sweeney Todd (the film) kept true to its mood. And for the better part of the film, i never seen Jhonny Depp (Sweeney Todd) sans the grim look and frowned eyebrow. The color was almost black and white, except for one occassion where Sacha Baron Cohen made an appearance on screen with his blue colored cape. This mood and color was of course, Tim Burton's specialty. His best works (i was thinking of Batman) so far, in my opinion, had smelled and looked black.

I'm a sucker for musical films. I believe i had many many times asserted the fact. Therefore, it should've been came as no surprise that (for the most part) i said i liked Sweeney Todd (the film). Although i would rather hesitated if i was given a chance to see this film again in a near future.

In London (i'm no historian, so i don't really had a clue about the time frame, but i guess, in this film, it is more believable and easier to look for a Baker Street and inquired for Sherlock Holmes and Dr.Watson than in any other era), lived a notorious Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman) who had eyes for lovely ladies. One day, he sees Benjamin Pratt (Jhonny Depp), a barber and his wive. He wants her. And by treacherous (not shown on screen) process he sent Benjamin away in estrangement for a crime he never did. Fifteen years later, he is back in London, his name is now Sweeney Todd, his face grim, his frowned eyebrow eternal, and with help from Mrs.Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter), the worst pie maker in London, he plans to take revenge.

If i was told that there's more men accidentally bled during his morning shave routine, i would believe it immediately. I tend to avoid barbershop as long as possible. Because really, having some complete stranger put a razor-sharp blade on my neck, wasn't really my favorite activity to pass the evening. This film, as its title suggest involved numerous barbershop scenery and activity which sometimes made me cringed. But of course, the main course of this film is its musical scores.

Actually, it would've been nicer if there's a dancing scene (there IS actually a dancing scene). But of course, why you'd put a dancing scene in a film with mood like this? It would've felt wrong. Not that putting a singing scene in every other scenes in a film with mood like this was 'right', but to put a dancing scene as well would stretching it a bit too far, not too mention riskier. The songs were sometimes repeated with different lyrics and slightly different arrangement. The songs were also rarely sung alone. More often, they act more like a substitute to a dialog, where an ensemble of casts singing together or answering each other. Sometimes, this is hard for me as a non-English speaker to comprehend the meaning. But thankfully, none was too hard.

My favorite piece of the film was "Johanna (act III)" performed by Jhonny Depp and Jamie Campbell Bower and Jayne Wisener in a scene that was (in somekind of a twisted way) hillarious, yet horrifying, and hinted at something really really discomforting as well. If you had seen the film, you'll know why. I don't want to spoil the fun, but i guarantee, it was something you've never seen on a musical film before. And i never prepared myself for the ending.

Jhonny Depp is an okay choice for Sweeney Todd and he was almost believeable as a singer. Helena Bonham Carter was okay for a singer (Jhonny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter sings their part by themselves). Alan Rickman only sings twice. He can't sing, not as good as the other cast anyway, but his accent is enough to steal the scene he's in.

Overall, this is not what i would said as the best musical film. Nor was it one of the best film in 2007 (i have all the spots in the top 10 or top 15 easily occupied before even considering this film. It was, after all, a very good year in film). This film is all Tim Burton's. The only decent performance, the one that stood out as a character and not merely a silent figure stamped on the screen is surprisingly, Helena Bonham Carter. Surprising, because i never really liked the girl. Jhonny Depp looks so distant in this film. It was as if his mind was still on the set of other film while trying to soak into his role as Benjamin Pratt/Sweeney Todd. I was surprised to see him won the Golden Globe Awards. The other casts, even Alan Rickman himself, were largely forgettable and ignorable.

And finally, remember, this film has been rated "R". Even if the violence was rather exaggerated, it was still qualified as an rated "R" film.

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