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

NC-17  |   |  Crime, Drama, Romance  |  6 April 1990 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 25,383 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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Title: The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989)

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6 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »
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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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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


Crime | Drama | Romance


NC-17 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




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 dishwasher sings Psalm 51:2: "Wash me from my iniquity...." See more »


Albert: What you've got to realize is that the clever cook puts unlikely things together, like duck and orange, like pineapple and ham. It's called 'artistry'. You know, I am an artist the way I combine my business and my pleasure: Money's my business, eating's my pleasure and Georgie's my pleasure, too, though in a more private kind of way than stuffing the mouth and feeding the sewers, though the pleasures are related because the naughty bits and the dirty bits are so close together that it just goes...
See more »

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

The Divine Comedy

Imagine the universe as a restaurant. The parking lot is the world. The kitchen is purgatory. The ladies's room is heaven. The dining room is hell. Hell is ruled over by Albert Spica, (Satan) excellently played by Michael Gobon. Dante is Michael (Alan Howard) a cataloger of French books. Beatrice, Dante's perfect woman, Georgina Spica (Helen Mirren) who is married to the devil.

In the beginning, the cook (God) in the real world is seen kicked and smeared and fed dog feces by Gabon. He is humiliated and in tears, but He endures and eventually helps to further the love between Howard and MIrren. Sex, in its pure form, is looked at as something sacred. Gabon lords over everyone in his realm with a tyrant's fist, caring nothing about anyone or anything. He wants two three things out of life—superiority to all other being, food and sex, while Mirren, as a reluctant Persephone, sneaks off to be with Howard. A couple of times Gabon even finds his way into the sanctity of heaven, but this is only short-lived.

The mood of the film is dark-black, heralded by brilliant reds or greens, and the tenor of an angelic child throughout. Every image is like a painting. Emotions creep in from all directions.

This is a film that would never, no matter what year it was produced, have won an Academy Award. It is too refined, to subtle, too sensual, too intelligent.

Watch it, rent it, buy it. It must be seen.

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Recent Posts
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
Great Fan, but having a big frustration... What about you? paulpenet
Ludicrous theory (to be taken with a grain of salt) AudemarsPiguet

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