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Depp shines in darkly comic ‘Sweeney Todd'
Director Tim Burton seems a natural choice to give Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's 1979 terrifying and blackly comic musical "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” the big-screen treatment.With the help of cinematographer Dariusz Volski and production designer Dante Ferretti, the director creates the perfect, appropriately cinematic setting. Theirs is a dank, grayish vision of Victorian London brightened only with drops and sprays and streams of bright red blood. But some casting miscues keep "Sweeney Todd” from touching the greatness of the Tony-winning Broadway production. After 15 years in an Australian penal colony, barber Benjamin Barker (Johnny Depp) escapes and is rescued from the sea by a young sailor, Anthony (Jamie Campbell Bower). Returning to his hometown of London, Barker vows to kill the wicked Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman), who had Barker imprisoned on false charges so he could steal the barber's lovely wife Lucy (Laura Michelle Kelly) and baby daughter Joanna. Barker takes a new identity — Sweeney Todd — and goes back to his old barbershop. Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter), who owns the pie-making shop downstairs, recognizes him and gives him bad news: His wife was raped by Turpin and then poisoned herself, while Joanna (Jayne Wisener) has grown up as the judge's ward. Sweeney plots to lure the judge into his barbershop by publicly challenging fellow barber Signor Adolfo Pirelli (Sacha Baron Cohen). Pirelli recognizes and tries to blackmail Sweeney, who counters by cutting Pirelli's throat.
CURRENT LOOK ISSUE
R 1:56 * * * Starring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Edward Sanders, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jayne Wisener, Jamie Campbell Bower. (Graphic bloody violence)