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I am currently working on a comedy mystery novel set in a world somewhat like ours. I can draw with either my right or my left hand, and I love to paint. I administer the blog for The Original Tree Worshippers of Rock County--rocksherlockotw.blogspot.com--a Sherlockian group I co-founded that meets in Janesville, Wisconsin, and am a founding member of The Cherry Street Irregulars, writers who gather (in groups of two or more) with laptops to create, critique, and support one another.
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Sweeney Todd

Movie Review by Resa Haile

I remember actors from the Broadway production of Sweeney Todd on talk shows, singing songs (most memorably Len Cariou’s version of “Not While I’m Around”) from the show. As an admirer of both Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, I was curious about the film version. I have to say, though, the subject matter—spoiler alert here for those who don’t know—left me feeling a little trepidation, a little queasiness, if you will.

A friend of mine and I, after considering various movies to see over the Christmas break, took the leap and went to see Sweeney Todd. Although I personally have seen slasher flicks with less blood, fans of the current genre of torture porn (which, sadly, passes for horror now), may find the film a bit tame.

The plot concerns a wronged man, a barber, who returns from years of exile and imprisonment in order to seek his revenge. In the process of doing so, he meets and throws in his lot with Mrs. Lovett, maker of the “worst pies in London,” a woman as mad as he is himself. As Mrs. Lovett, Helena Bonham Carter is a bedraggled porcelain doll with the largest eyes imaginable, and she and Johnny Depp make the perfect Goth couple. Or they would, if Sweeney Todd could forget to glower long enough to notice her exisstence.

The movie is almost a study in black and white (with frantic splashes of crimson, of course), but the most memorable segment for me is a candy-coloured fantasy Mrs. Lovett has about the perfect life she and Sweeney Todd could have together. Even in her own fantasy, she cannot manage to make him smile.

Fans of the Harry Potter movies may be pleased to see some familiar actors here. In addition to Bonham Carter, there is, for instance, Alan Rickman, he of the leonine face and the voice that drips honey. Rickman, who plays Sweeney Todd’s nemesis, is known to many moviegoers as Professor Snape. There should be none of the Snape-ish debates over his character here, however: He is a bad man.

It is true that I found it hard to have much sympathy for the title character, who goes from a man on a mission for vengeance to a killer of innocents for profit. (I also confess to having to go to the lobby for a bit while the cast sang about “the best pies in London”—queasy again.) The story, nonetheless, is operatic in its tragedy, and the ending is sort of perfect, with the blood of innocent and guilty flowing together in the kind of tableau of human foolishness that might make a nice addition to Madame Tussaud’s.

Afterwards, surprisingly, my friend and I went out and had some pie. But it wasn’t meat pie, so that was all right.


  1. I loved this movie and have seen it about ten times. I identified like mad — I yam Sweeney!

  2. Madam Miaow, I do not know if this is awesome or a little bit terrifying, but I thank you, most humbly, for gracing my blog with your presence.