7.6/10
27,224
179 user 70 critic

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

NC-17 | | Crime, Drama, Romance | 6 April 1990 (USA)
The wife of an abusive criminal finds solace in the arms of a kind regular guest in her husband's restaurant.

Director:

Writer:

Reviews
Popularity
4,163 ( 590)
6 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Tired of her husband's philanderous ways, the mother of two daughters drowns her husband. With the reluctant help of the local coroner, the murder is obscured. Her daughters are having ... See full summary »

Director: Peter Greenaway
Stars: Bernard Hill, Joan Plowright, Juliet Stevenson
Comedy | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Mr. Neville, a cocksure young artist is contracted by Mrs. Herbert, the wife of a wealthy landowner, to produce a set of twelve drawings of her husband's estate, a contract which extends ... See full summary »

Director: Peter Greenaway
Stars: Anthony Higgins, Janet Suzman, Anne-Louise Lambert
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

An American architect arrives in Italy, supervising an exhibition for a French architect, Boullée, who is famous for his oval structures. Through the course of 9 months he becomes obsessed ... See full summary »

Director: Peter Greenaway
Stars: Brian Dennehy, Chloe Webb, Lambert Wilson
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Oliver Deuce, a successful doctor, is shattered when his wife is killed in a freak car accident involving the car being driven by Alba Bewick colliding with a very large rare bird. His twin... See full summary »

Director: Peter Greenaway
Stars: Brian Deacon, Eric Deacon, Andréa Ferréol
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

As a young girl in Japan, Nagiko's father paints characters on her face, and her aunt reads to her from "The Pillow Book", the diary of a 10th-century lady-in-waiting. Nagiko grows up, ... See full summary »

Director: Peter Greenaway
Stars: Vivian Wu, Ewan McGregor, Yoshi Oida
Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

An exiled magician finds an opportunity for revenge against his enemies muted when his daughter and the son of his chief enemy fall in love in this uniquely structured retelling of the 'The... See full summary »

Director: Peter Greenaway
Stars: John Gielgud, Michael Clark, Michel Blanc
8 ½ Women (1999)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

Following the death of a mother, a father and son open up a brothel in their Genevan estate after watching (1963).

Director: Peter Greenaway
Stars: John Standing, Matthew Delamere, Vivian Wu
Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A movie about the corruption in all levels of society. A baby is born from a supposed-to-be virgin woman, so a chain of hysteria about divine intervention in the birth takes place.

Director: Peter Greenaway
Stars: Julia Ormond, Ralph Fiennes, Philip Stone
Documentary | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

An 'essayistic' documentary in which Greenaway's fierce criticism of today's visual illiteracy is argued by means of a forensic search of Rembrandt's Nightwatch. Greenaway explains the ... See full summary »

Director: Peter Greenaway
Stars: Martin Freeman, Eva Birthistle, Jodhi May
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A sexually repressed woman's husband is having an affair with her sister. The arrival of a visitor with a rather unusual fetish changes everything.

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: James Spader, Andie MacDowell, Peter Gallagher
Blow-Up (1966)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A mod London photographer finds something very suspicious in the shots he has taken of a mysterious beauty in a desolate park.

Director: Michelangelo Antonioni
Stars: David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles
Naked Lunch (1991)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

After developing an addiction to the substance he uses to kill bugs, an exterminator accidentally murders his wife and becomes involved in a secret government plot being orchestrated by giant bugs in a port town in North Africa.

Director: David Cronenberg
Stars: Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Richard
...
...
...
Michael
...
Mitchel
...
Cory (as Ciaran Hinds)
Gary Olsen ...
Spangler
Ewan Stewart ...
Harris
...
Turpin (as Roger Ashton Griffiths)
...
Mews
Liz Smith ...
Grace
...
Patricia
Janet Henfrey ...
Alice
Arnie Breeveld ...
Eden
Tony Alleff ...
Troy
Edit

Storyline

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

NC-17 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

6 April 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Spica  »

Box Office

Gross:

$7,724,701 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (R-rated)

Sound Mix:

(as Dolby Stereo in selected theatres)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Quotes

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

Connections

Referenced in Brows Held High: Prospero's Books (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Coupling
Written by Michael Nyman
Piano by 'Michael Nyman (I)', Violins by Alexander Balanescu, Elisabeth Perry and Jonathan Carney
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Bon appetit.
6 June 2003 | by (UK) – See all my reviews

Writer/Director Peter Greenaway teams up again with cinematographer Sacha Vierny and composer Michael Nyman, delivering a banquet of sound and colour, light and dark. And dark and dark. A simple if disturbing morality tale sits atop a canvas of grotesque characters, carefully-composed frames and revolting details. The restaurant setting forces analogues with a meal, and it's easy to oblige - a rather formal affair, bordering on pretentious, with its influences conspicuous - sumptuous, exotic, intoxicating, memorable, if perhaps too rich and over-long, and it plays havoc with the digestion.

As acquired a taste as any of Greenaway's work, and by no means an unqualified triumph. This film does not deliver on all its promises. But at least they were big promises. Try a piece - if you don't like it, you can always go back to your burgers and fries.

Nine out of ten.

Notes:

1. Michael Gambon's "Albert Spica" (the Thief of the title) surely ranks as one of cinema's all-time nastiest villains. Sorry Darth - no cigar.

2. The title of this film has become a template for headlines in British newspapers, e.g. "The A, the B, his C and her D". Don't ask me why.

3. "Cook/Thief" is one of four similar and inter-related films that Greenaway made during the 1980s, the others being "The Belly of an Architect", "A Zed and Two Noughts" and "Drowning by Numbers". While "Cook/Thief" stole all the headlines with its snazzy visuals and outrageous grotesquery - not to mention various collisions with the censors - For me, "Drowning" is the best of the bunch. And somewhat easier on the eye (and stomach).


24 of 39 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

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

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?