The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover
is both adored and detested for its combination of sumptuous beauty and revolting decadence. Few directors polarise audiences in the same way as Peter Greenaway, a filmmaker as influenced by Jacobean revenge tragedy and 17th-century painting as by the French New Wave. A vile, gluttonous thief (Michael Gambon) spews hate and abuse at a restaurant run by a stoic French cook (Richard Bohringer), but under the thief's nose his wife (the ever-sensuous Helen Mirren) conducts an affair with a bookish lover (Alan Howard). Clothing (by avant-garde designer Jean-Paul Gaultier) changes colour as the characters move from room to room. Nudity, torture, rotting meat, and Tim Roth at his sleaziest all contribute the atmosphere of decay and excess. Not for everyone, but for some, essential. --Bret Fetzer
Spain released, PAL/Region 2 DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ), German ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ), Italian ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ), Spanish ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ), Arabic ( Subtitles ), Danish ( Subtitles ), Dutch ( Subtitles ), English ( Subtitles ), Finnish ( Subtitles ), French ( Subtitles ), German ( Subtitles ), Hebrew ( Subtitles ), Italian ( Subtitles ), Norwegian ( Subtitles ), Portuguese ( Subtitles ), Russian ( Subtitles ), Spanish ( Subtitles ), Swedish ( Subtitles ), Turkish ( Subtitles ), WIDESCREEN (1.85:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Interactive Menu, Scene Access, Trailer(s), Uncut, SYNOPSIS: This is probably Peter Greenaway's most famous (or infamous) film, which first shocked audiences at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival and then on both sides of the Atlantic. A gang leader (Michael Gambon), accompanied by his wife (Helen Mirren) and his associates, entertains himself every night in a fancy French restaurant that he has recently bought. Having tired of her sadistic, boorish husband, the wife finds herself a lover (Alan Howard) and makes love to him in the restaurant's coziest places with the silent permission of the cook (Richard Bohringer). Though less cerebral than Greenaway's other films, featuring deadly passions reminiscent of Jacobean revenge tragedies of the early 17th century, the picture still offers the director's usual ironic and paradoxical comments on the relations between eating and sex, love and death. The film is at once funny and horrific, and those who are not used to Greenaway's peculiar style might be even disgusted or shocked; however, one might mention Sacha Vierny's brilliant camerawork, Jean-Paul Gaultier's gaudily stylized costumes, and Michael Nyman's somber, pulsating music, which will haunt the viewer long after the film's end.
SCREENED/AWARDED AT: Catalonian International Film Festival, Europea...The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover