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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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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 car that Albert Spica drives is listed in the credits as a Valentine Lindsay AT V12. It is in fact a modified early-'70s Dodge Dart Swinger. Valentine Lindsay is the name of a British car enthusiast and racer who works with the V12 Team of Harrier Racing, and most likely loaned the car to the production. See more »


Albert: Now I've given you a good dinner, you can have a nice drink.
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 »


Spoofed in The Curse of Monkey Island (1997) 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.


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?

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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
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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