I was never a huge fan of Helena Bonham Carter. I mean, I didn't have anything against her, but I never saw her name listed in an upcoming film and thought! "HELENA! AWESOME! I'll totally have to see that!" But she was FABULOUS in Sweeney Todd. I cannot think of anyone who could have done such a perfect job with the role of Mrs. Lovett. Oh. My. God. She was fantastic.
Burton played the musical very darkly. There are times when he COULD have chosen to lighten things up a bit, but he didn't. As an audience member, you can actually see where these scenes are, the ones that he could have shot through with some levity, and the fact that he decided to have them played them "matter-of-factly" versus "tongue-in-cheek" made them all the more bleak and disturbing.
Burton made a conscious choice to make every scene just that much more horrific. I cringed every time Depp stepped on the mechanism that opened the trapdoor leading into the boiler room, for example.
The fact that the trapdoor opened BEHIND the chair rather than at the foot of it made the treatment of the victims, whose throats had just been slit without a thought, even more gruesome: instead of sliding down forwards feet first, the way they were facing already, and landing on their feet or bums; they were flipped backwards to slide upside-down, thereby falling head-first and backwards to the stone floor of the boiler room. I shuddered every time, even though the victims were dead by the time they were dropped through the trapdoor. Considering the body count Todd ran up during the course of this movie, it would have looked to the people behind me like I had a serious chill with all my shuddering and cringing, that is, if the people behind me weren't riveted to the screen like I was. There was not a moment I felt my attention waver from the screen. This is a seriously intense film. Though bleak, it is NEVER boring.
Carter and Depp were both 100% invested and believable in the roles of the barber who slays his customers and the pie-maker who bakes them up for crowds upon crowds of appreciative (and unsuspecting) customers with grumbling tummies.
There is no happy ending. None of the main characters - no matter how innocent - are left untouched by violence and horror. You have no idea what will happen to them, but your hopes for them are left pretty slim at best. Of the three "innocents" left alive at the end, one - an 11-year-old boy- murders a man; another - a man of about 18 - locks another man into a room to be murdered; and the last, a beautiful 15-year-old girl - has already lived a life of horror and fear. She says, incredulously, to her beloved who believes they can simply run off and live happily ever after, that she can never be happy or forget her past: "I don't have dreams. Only nightmares."
It's not a feel-good movie, but it's really, REALLY good.