"Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (**1/2)
(There’s a lot of misinterpretation going on simply because I joshed Tom O’Neil for going so over-the-top in his review and pointed toward odd but telling discrepancies in Jeffrey Wells’ take. So, I’m going to be measured here…)
I love Tim Burton. He has built a 22-year career on pure visual seduction. He has been pegged – usually by way of criticism – as a virtuoso of style above substance, but I have always found much to admire in his expressionist portrayals.
“Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” presented a certain opportunity. On the surface, many felt the marriage of Burton to Stephen Sondheim was a match made in heaven. More to the point, however, the chance for the director to plumb thematic depths such as this hadn’t been more apparent since his masterpiece, “Edward Scissorhands,” 17 years ago.
But before I talk about what didn’t work for me in this, the final big unveiling of the 2007 Oscar season, allow me to knock out the positive assessments first. They are considerable.