“Sweeney Todd,” review by Joanna Langfield

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The curiosity factor on this one alone has made it a must see. How would Tim Burton, known for his consistently unconventional vision, tackle the Stephen Sondheim musical classic? And, while we all know Johnny Depp has proven to be a versatile actor, can he sing?

Happily, the answers to both questions are good news. While the first, say, ten minutes or so seem a touch nervous, the film finds its own voice soon after. Burton’s signature bleak visuals are a perfect foil for this story of the bloodthirsty barber of Fleet Street. But we’re not just mucking around in blacks and grays here: when a surprising Helena Bonham Carter sings her dream of happiness, the scenario bursts into a vivid glorious color, the joy of which is matched only by the dandy comic performances.

Not to worry, though: Burton never pretties up Sondheim’s original meat pie vision. Blood spurts, oozes and coats, with a relish that may even get to the least squeamish. But, hey, that’s the deal here. Equally impactful are the wonderful performances from supporting stars Alan Rickman and Sasha Baron Cohen, both of whom add another perspective to their already impressive careers.

And then there’s Johnny. Yes, he’s grand as Sweeney, even if, a few times, his stiff body reminded me a little too much of Edward Scissorhands. Still, his eyes tell it all and his voice does it, too. This former rock star wannabe handles Sondheim with assurance and, within a very few scenes, manages to make this classic nut case very much his own.

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Joanna Langfield (Archived Contributor)

Her voice is heard throughout the 50 states and around the world by more than one million listeners on her syndicated radio programs: Joanna Langfield’s People Report and Video and Movie Minute. She’s also seen and heard as a regular contributing commentator on CNN International, CNN, Fox News and CNBC. In print, her articles have been published in such high profile magazines as Video Review and McCall’s. Joanna Langfield is known for taking interviews to another level with probing looks at celebrities’ insights rather than just their latest projects. As a result, she’s secured a niche among the nation’s premier interviewers and movie critics. Joanna began her career on the production staff of a local Boston television station. She then focused her energies towards radio and produced talk shows at WMEX-AM in Boston. After moving to New York, she became executive producer at WMCA-AM for talk show personalities Barry Gray and Sally Jessy Raphael. She began hosting a one-minute movie review spot which, in turn, led to her top-rated weekend call in-show, The Joanna Langfield Show (1980-83). Joanna moved to WABC-AM to host The Joanna Langfield Show on Saturday nights from 9:00pm to midnight. It was the highest rated show in its time slot. From 1987-1989, Joanna hosted Today’s People on the ABC Radio network, which was fed daily to over 300 stations around the country. She also appeared on WABC-TV as a regular on-air contributor. In 1989, Joanna formed her radio production company, Joanna Langfield Entertainment Reports, to syndicate her radio reports. She is considered to be one of the top authoritative commentators on the entertainment industry. Read Lagfield's recent articles below. For her Women On Film archive, type "Joanna Langfield" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).