Peter Greenaway's "The Cook, The Thief..." is part black comedy and part surreal drama starring the brilliant Michael Gambon and Helen Mirren. As lush and darkly beautiful as some of his other work (Prospero's Books, Drowning By Numbers), "The Cook, The Thief..." has the huge advantage of being a highly watchable film because Greenaway creates a dramatic story that engages you with characters alot more than in some of his other work. The film looks and sounds great throughout, with the keen eye of Sacha Vierny and the surreal touches from Greenaway that bring each scene to life.
Once again, Greenaway has used the music of Michael Nyman to add a whole new dimension to the film. Indeed, Nyman never 'scored' any Greenaway films... the process was infact the other way around, with Greenaway choreographing his scenes to fit with Nyman's music. This film is by far and away the best example of this, and the result is superb. Incorporating some of Nyman's best music, the musical centrepiece of the film is Nyman's 'Memorial', and epic funeral march-like piece, originally composed as a memorial to the victims of the Heysel Stadium disaster in 1985.
As well as some great costumes (by Jean Paul Gaultier), set designs and brilliant acting (esp. by Gambon), this film boasts some great dark humour, as well as it's fair share of geniune nastiness. Gambon plays the abominable Albert Spica, a grotesque and vulgar man who abuses and humiliates his wife (Mirren), who seeks refuge with another man, only for Spica to turn his wretched attentions to him, with terrible consequences (can't say any more without giving the end away!)
As a piece of film-making, it's a masterpiece. As a nice cosy film you can sit down to watch on a rainy weekend over and over again, forget it! But for Greenaway's talent, Gambon's acting, Nyman's music, Gaultier's costumes and Sacha Vierny's cinematographic excellence, how many more reasons do you need to go out and buy this film? Great stuff!!