DreamWorks has been holding Sweeney Todd back. Well, they finally screened it last week, and elicited “non-reviews” from the Internet folks. The two trades are sufficiently alarmed by all this activity to consider running their reviews sooner rather than later, I hear.
I saw the movie Sunday. I now understand why DreamWorks has been treading so carefully on the marketing. This is not your every day movie musical. Stephen Sondheim is filtered through the sensibilities of Tim Burton and his muse and alter-ego, Johnny Depp. It worked for me. I already love this musical; it was fascinating to see the narrative that I’d seen on stage so many times unfolding in a more literal close-up space. The story is the same, but intimate close-ups bring emotion and wells of feeling (and blood and gruesome gore). The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is not exactly a warm and cuddly fellow. And yet Depp (pictured here with Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett) makes him human.
Sweeney Todd will likely earn a rash of Oscar nominations, including cinematography, production design, makeup, costumes, sound categories, and Depp. But even if Depp is long overdue, Daniel Day Lewis remains a formidable opponent. And a best picture slot is not a sure thing. It never is.
Check out these tip-toed Internet reports about Sweeney: Newsweek blogger Ramin Setoodeh, In Contention, Fox News, Hollywood Elsewhere, The Hot Blog, The Carpetbagger, and Sweeney champion Tom O’Neill at The Envelope.
[Originally appeared on Variety.com]