7.6/10
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The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989)

NC-17 | | Crime, Drama | 6 April 1990 (USA)
Trailer
1:09 | Trailer
At Le Hollandais gourmet restaurant, every night is filled with opulence, decadence, and gluttony. But when the cook, a thief, his wife and her lover all come together, they unleash a shocking torrent of sex, food, murder and revenge.

Director:

Peter Greenaway

Writer:

Peter Greenaway
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Popularity
4,387 ( 7)
7 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Bohringer ... Richard
Michael Gambon ... Albert
Helen Mirren ... Georgina
Alan Howard ... Michael
Tim Roth ... Mitchel
Ciarán Hinds ... Cory (as Ciaran Hinds)
Gary Olsen Gary Olsen ... Spangler
Ewan Stewart ... Harris
Roger Ashton-Griffiths ... Turpin (as Roger Ashton Griffiths)
Ron Cook ... Mews
Liz Smith ... Grace
Emer Gillespie ... Patricia
Janet Henfrey ... Alice
Arnie Breeveld Arnie Breeveld ... Eden
Tony Alleff Tony Alleff ... Troy
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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. Written by Keith Loh <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Greenaway's recipe of food and sex mixed with art is both delicious and wonderfully wicked. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

NC-17 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included amongst the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Goofs

When Albert (Michael Gambon) goes into the ladies' toilet and starts throwing women out of the cubicles, the second one has, as you would expect, her underwear around her knees. But her skirt rides right up, revealing that she is still wearing her underwear, and that the ones below are a prop. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
Georgina: Cannibal!
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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 »

Alternate Versions

An edited, R-rated version is available on video. See more »

Connections

Featured in 100 Greatest Sexy Moments (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Miserere
Written by Michael Nyman
Performed by Michael Nyman Band & Orchestra with London Voices
Chorus conducted by Terry Edwards
Additional Vocals by Doreen Walker, Elisabeth Harrison, Gareth Roberts, Geoffrey Shaw, Gordon Jones, Judith Rees, Lesley Reid, Simon Davies and Sue Anderson
Main Vocals by Paul Chapman
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User Reviews

 
An unforgettable piece of total cinema
7 November 2007 | by onionhasayoyoSee all my reviews

First of all, I have to say that this film is one of my personal favorites, and that it is one of those things one must see during his or her lifetime.

Truthfully, however, I first got into this film after hearing clips of the soundtrack on the Japanese version of Iron Chef, during a time before it was acquired by the Food Network. This film score, composed by the great post-minimalist Michael Nyman, is still one of the most haunting and soul-stirring scores in my opinion, if not the one of the most impressionable bodies of musical work ever. I still listen to the album on a weekly basis - it gets under your skin that way.

The film itself is a piece of total art, as others have said. The sets are saturated with their singular color schemes (blue for the restaurant's exterior, green for the kitchen, white for the restrooms, and red for the main dining hall) , and people who have any sort of artistic training have valued and will continue to value this film as a character study of color. In this present age where most films present their interpretations of visual thrill through costly CG and SFX technologies, this film is a testament to how color can be a driving influence behind effective set design and cinematography.

The principal actors, including the always amazing Helen Mirren and Michael Gambon, are first rate. Helen Mirren's Georgina is a truly heart-wrenching character, especially in the face of Gambon's portrayal of Albert Spica, a poor excuse for a human being and one of cinema's cruelest villains. The cook and lover are merely catalysts, serving to instigate the final act that is the undoing of Albert's overreaching tyranny.

I suppose the anti-Thatcher sentiment is highly applicable to this film, but since I am not a British citizen, I feel that I cannot comment on this. However, I think the film's allegory can also be applied to other scenarios where a brutish figure uses violence and exploitation as a way to control others whose primary fault is only residing in the same physical/social/legal domain as the brute.

In short, a masterpiece.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

Netherlands | UK | France

Language:

English | French | Dutch

Release Date:

6 April 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$252,223, 8 April 1990

Gross USA:

$7,724,701

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$7,724,701
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (R-rated)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo (as Dolby Stereo in selected theatres)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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