Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street

Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s arty blood opera about revenge, squalor, cannibalism, and despair in Victorian London provides a good many challenges to nonprofessional singers, including unhummable tunes, and one accomplishment of this well-crafted if relatively impersonal adaptation by director Tim Burton and writer John Logan is that Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, and Sacha Baron Cohen do a lot more than simply survive the songs. Like Marlon Brando and Jean Simmons in Guys and Dolls (1955), they dissolve the distinction between singing and acting. Dante Ferrett’s claustrophobic setsvirtually the reverse of the spacious settings in Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factoryare pretty effective too. R, 117 min. (JR)

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