The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover is another visual and cerebral feast by one of my favorite iconoclastic writer/directors, Peter Greenaway. I have reviewed his earlier The Draughtsman's Contract here on Brightness and I found this movie to be as visually absorbing and nearly as confusing as his first work. This one was even more disturbing in its combination of sex and violence, covered with a patina of respectibility.
Helen Mirren plays Georgina, The Wife of The Thief, Albert Spica (the magnificently voracious Michael Gambon). They often come to the French restaraunt bankrolled by The Thief and run by The Cook, Richard Borst (Richard Bohringer). While there one evening, Georgina catches the eye of The Lover, Michael (Alan Howard). They then begin a torrid love affair while in the restaurant, meeting up in the women's bathroom, the kitchen and outside. The Cook approves of the affair, as he too realizes what a boor Albert Spica is, so he does his best to conceal the lovers from the ever beligerant Spica.
Of course, eventually Albert discovers the affair and through some very brutish methods, uncovers where they've hidden out. He exacts a terrible revenge and comes away feeling much better. But Georgina finally breaks free from her own chains tying her to Albert, and, together with The Cook, bring together their own horrifying revenge, truly a dish best served cold.
This is one offbeat movie, and not for the squeamish. Torture and sadism play no small role, while sex and violence permeate the entire film. It is brilliantly filmed, as each room is given its own lighting - the kitchen is washed with green lighting, the dining room a riot of red and gold, while outdoors is bathed in a cold blue. There's all kinds of action going on in every scene, and I'm sure you could watch it a dozen times and pick out new things going on in the background.
All the main actors put on superb performances, especially the over-the-top bravura acting job by Gambon. His voice rides through nearly every scene, and it is impossible to take your eyes off of him. The ending is just too bizarre and needs to be seen to be believed. While this isn't a movie for everyone, if you're in the right off-kilter mood, you'd be hard pressed to find a more interesting movie.
Buy The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover at DVDPlanet
Richard Bohringer, Helen Mirren, Michael Gambon, Alan Howard, Tim Roth
The wife of an borish restaurant owner and crimelord grows tiresome of her husband and considers an affair with a gentle bookselling patron.