7.6/10
30,785
184 user 73 critic

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

The wife of an abusive criminal finds solace in the arms of a kind regular guest in her husband's restaurant.

Director:

Peter Greenaway

Writer:

Peter Greenaway
Reviews
Popularity
2,902 ( 400)

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

ON DISC
7 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

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

Three generations of women all share the same problem: marriage woes, and they want to put an end to it.

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

A young artist is commissioned by the wife of a wealthy landowner to make a series of drawings of the estate while her husband is away.

Director: Peter Greenaway
Stars: Anthony Higgins, Janet Suzman, Anne-Louise Lambert
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Twin zoologists lose their wives in a car accident and become obsessed with decomposing animals.

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

A woman with a body writing fetish seeks to find a combined lover and calligrapher.

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

An architect supervising an exhibition starts to have mysterious stomach pains while his life begins to fall apart.

Director: Peter Greenaway
Stars: Brian Dennehy, Chloe Webb, Lambert Wilson
Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

The magician Prospero attempts to stop his daughter's affair with an enemy.

Director: Peter Greenaway
Stars: John Gielgud, Michael Clark, Michel Blanc
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
Nightwatching (2007)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

An extravagant, exotic and moving look at Rembrandt's romantic and professional life, and the controversy he created by the identification of a murderer in the painting 'The Night Watch'.

Director: Peter Greenaway
Stars: Martin Freeman, Emily Holmes, Eva Birthistle
Edit

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 Janet Henfrey ... Alice
Arnie Breeveld Arnie Breeveld ... Eden
Tony Alleff 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! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

NC-17 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

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 »

Edit

Box Office

Gross USA:

$7,724,701
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (R-rated)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo (as Dolby Stereo in selected theatres)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

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

Georgina: [to Richard] He's dead. They stuffed him with pages torn from his favourite book. Could you cook him?
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 »

Alternate Versions

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


Soundtracks

Memorial
Written by Michael Nyman
Performed by The Michael Nyman Band
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Terrifically complex, terrifically beautiful, and just plain terrific.
20 November 2005 | by milocSee all my reviews

Here's the weird secret of this movie: you might actually enjoy it.

Peter Greenaway once commented, "film is too important to be left in the hands of story- tellers." Like almost everything Godard ever said, it's a preposterous statement that ought to be heeded.

As a filmmaker Greenaway has always delighted in puzzle-pictures; from the twin-based symmetry of "A Zed and Two Naughts" to the subliminal counting-game of "Drowning by Numbers" to the mad frames-within-frames of "Prospero's Books" his films resemble nothing so much as one of Graeme Base's wonderful children's' books ("The Eleventh Hour" and "Animalia" for instance) brought to life. Plus, of course, a great deal of nudity and assorted nastiness-- enough to get the works of one of the most original filmmakers living a rather sordid reputation.

So, once you've recovered from the visceral shock of watching "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover" the first time, take a step back and watch it again. Yeah, I mean that, do it. Look at it this time as you might a painting by Heironymus Bosch: what appears to be a madman's chaotic hellscape turns out to have a precise allegorical order, and contains such a wealth of symbolism that one viewing cannot possibly be enough to absorb it all. A scene that may seem gratuitously horrific (a naked couple enclosed in a truck full of rotting meat-- probably the moment that jolted me the most) in fact reveals a medievalist's precision (Adam and Eve, cast from Paradise for the First Big Sin, are suddenly subject to the corruption of the flesh). An abstract concept is thus made perfectly and accessibly literal.

Different viewers may prefer to see this movie as religious allegory, political screed, or wry class commentary. The fact is it is all of these, and probably more. The irony of Greenaway's quote above is that he is in fact story-telling on several levels at once. (It's the same irony in the comment that "Seinfeld" was a "show about nothing" when in fact there was more going on per episode than in any other ten sitcoms. It just wasn't "simple.")

In response to criticism over the bloodshed in his movies, Godard once said "It isn't blood, it's red." Meaning: it's all part of a composition, the way color is used on a painter's canvas. It's there for a point, just like Greenaway's explicit yet elegant shocks. With that mind, watch this movie, and enjoy it. It's sharp, gruesomely witty, and as remarkable to look at as almost anything in the Met. If you can handle really thinking, you can handle this, and we all can, can't we?


65 of 86 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 184 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page



Recently Viewed