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. Burtons signature bleak visuals are a perfect foil for this story of the bloodthirsty barber of Fleet Street. But were 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 Sondheims original meat pie vision. Blood spurts, oozes and coats, with a relish that may even get to the least squeamish. But, hey, thats 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 theres Johnny. Yes, hes 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.