At one end is the performance of this musical by an opera company; at
the other, a presentation by non-singers. "Sweeney Todd," the movie,
opens on Dec. 21, but the CD of the soundtrack from Dreamworks Pictures
is available already. The actors do their own singing (Marnie Nixon,
where are you when we need you?!), and the result is just what you'd
expect: dramatic recitation, Sprechstimme, over-orchestrated rap.
Orchestral-choral passages are Cinerama-huge, too much.
With hope against hope, one could wonder if this virtual desecration
of a great score will "pass" in the context of the movie. Maybe, just
maybe the visual will overcome and overwhelm the "music." Also, says
Pollyanna, for those who never heard the piece, even this mock-musical
performance may serve as an instrument of discovery. I am leaning over
backward so hard, it's hurting. But speak of real pain: "the" Sondheim
conductor, Paul Gemignani, is on the podium; I cannot imagine what he
heard and felt during recording sessions. I hope ample compensation
acted as partial balm.
- Johnny Depp's Todd is raspy and intermittently Cockney-in-excess; at
times, he doesn't even pretend to sing
- Helena Bonham Carter's Mrs. Lovett is a highschool-musical wannabe
performance, a poor one
- Jamie Campbell Bower's Anthony hints at some voice training, but no
voice beyond a two- or three-note range - Jane Wisener's Johanna is
pop-facile, with instances of disturbing vibrato, her little-girl sound
is irritating, rather than charming
- Sacha Baron (Borat) Cohen's Pirelli is embarrassing, but Edward
Sanders as Tobias is does a good boy soprano job
- Alan Rickman's Judge Turpin fortunately has little to sing
An unmusical edition of a musical as a film soundtrack: go figure.
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