Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.


Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Movie Poster

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Four and a Half out of Five Stars
Genre: Thriller/Musical/Horror
Rated: R
Directed by:
Tim Burton
Starring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman,
Timothy Spall, Sacha Baron Cohen
Released by: Paramount Pictures

In Short: The best Tim Burton-Johnny Depp collaboration yet, this wildly exciting (and gory) musical is a practically perfect Grand Guignol horror flick.

The Best Shave Ever
A Singing Barber to Love
by Jenny Peters

Fans of the slightly off-kilter world view that director Tim Burton and actor Johnny Depp bring to the big screen will be thrilled with "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street." The dynamic duo that has brought us "Edward Scissorhands," "Ed Wood," "The Corpse Bride," "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," and "Sleepy Hollow" (the film closest in tone to "Sweeney") have outdone themselves with this brilliant big screen adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s grisly Broadway musical.

Depp is pitch-perfect as Sweeney Todd, a London Fleet Street barber who was convicted of a petty crime and deported to Australia by an evil judge (Alan Rickman) who lusted after his beautiful wife and daughter. He returns to England twenty years later, with revenge in his heart, and takes up residence in the same barbershop, over Mrs. Lovett's Meat Pie shop. And bad things begin to happen.

Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Johnny Depp and Alan Rickman in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

The fact that this dark, deadly story is punctuated with musical numbers shouldn't put off fans that usually wouldn't consider going to a Broadway show, for these songs are not the usual cornball fare one associates with that genre. Instead, they are mostly fraught with evil intent or—in the case of the tune sang by Todd's rival barber, a flamboyant Italian played to the hilt by Sacha Baron Cohen—hilarious frivolity.

Burton sets the perfect tone for this tale that takes place in 1800s London; it is almost, but not quite, surreal, with sets and costumes that transport us into a time and place long ago, where murder most foul went more unnoticed than it does today. Depp gives the performance of a lifetime (and deserves to win an Oscar this time), and Helena Bonham-Carter as his slightly deranged partner in crime is grand, too, as are the supporting cast. Timothy Spall is particularly creepy as the unctuous Beadle to the evil judge, and Ed Sanders is a revelation as the young street urchin that Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett befriend.

For those who do not know the full story of "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," be forewarned: this is as much a grisly horror movie as a musical, and a wonderfully grand one at that.

(Updated 12/21/07 NJ)

The kinds of movies made for foodies, including classics such as Like Water for Chocolate and newer releases like Chef and Ratatouille.

Summer is here! Protect your skin from harmful UV rays all year round with GAYOT's Top 10 Sunscreens.