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The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989)

NC-17  |   |  Crime, Drama  |  6 April 1990 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 25,729 users  
Reviews: 173 user | 68 critic

The wife of an oafish restaurant owner becomes bored with her husband and considers an affair with a regular patron.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Cory (as Ciaran Hinds)
Gary Olsen ...
Ewan Stewart ...
Turpin (as Roger Ashton Griffiths)
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Janet Henfrey ...
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The wife of a barbaric crime boss engages in a secretive romance with a gentle bookseller between meals at her husband's restaurant. Food, colour coding, sex, murder, torture and cannibalism are the exotic fare in this beautifully filmed but brutally uncompromising modern fable which has been interpreted as an allegory for Thatcherism. Written by Keith Loh <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Lust...Murder...Dessert. Bon Appetit!


Crime | Drama


NC-17 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



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Release Date:

6 April 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Spica  »

Box Office


$7,724,701 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (R-rated)

Sound Mix:

(as Dolby Stereo in selected theatres)


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The four title characters are named for the actors writer-director Peter Greenaway originally wanted to play them. Richard (The Cook) is for Richard Bohringer, the only one of Greenaway's original choices retained in the final film. Albert (The Thief) is named after Albert Finney, while Georgina (His Wife) is for Georgina Hale. Michael (The Lover) is named, interestingly enough, for Michael Gambon, whom Greenaway eventually re-cast as Albert. See more »


Albert: I think those Ethiopians enjoy starving. Keeps them thin and graceful.
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Crazy Credits

Closing credits epilogue: "And a special thanks to those very many people who patiently & repeatedly performed as patients & nurses in the hospital ward, and as diners in the Hollandais Restaurant." See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Albert's Special Treat
24 February 2012 | by (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – See all my reviews

The cruel and sadistic crime boss Albert Spica (Michael Gambon) has dinner every night in his restaurant with his wife Georgina Spica (Helen Mirren) and his gang. Albert abuses of his wife, his gangsters, the chef Richard Borst (Richard Bohringer) and the restaurant employees.

When Georgina meets the gentle bookseller Michael (Alan Howard) in the restaurant, they have a torrid affair in the restroom and in the store, and they are covered by Richard. However the prostitute Pat discloses to Albert that he has been betrayed by Georgina and Albert kills Michael. However Georgina plots revenge against Albert with the support of Richard and the victims of Albert.

"The Cook the Thief His Wife & Her Lover" is one of the most grotesque, eschatological, bizarre and weird films that I have ever seen. But it is also absolutely original and mesmerizing, with intense use of colors, and with the contrast of vulgarity and art. Food, eschatology, sex, cruelty, torture, cannibalism and revenge are entwined along 124 minutes running time. The result is not pleasant and only specific audiences will appreciate this film. Last time I had seen this film was on 08 September 2000 on VHS. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "O Cozinheiro, o Ladrão, Sua Mulher e o Amante" ("The Cook the Thief, His Wife and the Lover")

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Albert Spica, the most odious film character ever. leucrottabob
More artistic movies like this? panospcm
Out of print? joenonneman
Why this movie isn't on the top 250 is beyond me... bplex
Ludicrous theory (to be taken with a grain of salt) AudemarsPiguet
Great Fan, but having a big frustration... What about you? paulpenet

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