116 min. minutes | Rated R
For a fan of the musical—a rabid fan—it’s hard to overlook what Tim Burton got wrong and enjoy what Burton got right. Helena Bonham Carter can’t sing—which is a big problem. So many songs have been omitted or scaled back that anyone familiar with the score is going to leave the theater feeling cheated. And some of the violence is so over-the-top gruesome that it draws attention to the filmmaker and away from the barber. So what did Burton get right? The first two-thirds of the film transport you into a thoroughly hellish vision of early 19th-century London. Sacha Baron Cohen is a brilliant choice for Pirelli, a rival barber, and the rest of the supporting cast—mostly unknowns—is equally strong. The music, as much as was used, is beautiful and (when Bonham Carter isn’t singing) beautifully sung. Finally, two numbers—“A Little Priest” and “Not While I’m Around”—redeem the production entire.
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