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COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE AND HER LOVER, THE: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
The setting is a ritzy restaurant owned by vicious criminal Albert Spica (Michael Gambon) who likes to hold court beneath an enormous Frans Hals reproduction and humiliate his wife Georgina (Helen Mirren) and chef Richard Borst (Richard Bohringer). Love, sex, revenge and death receive the Greenaway treatment once Georgina begins an affair with a regular diner, the bookish Michael (Alan Howard).

Like most of Peter Greenaway's films The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover is a basic morality tale wrapped up in a complex series of signs, games and esoteric references. One of the few cinema intellectuals whose work has been widely seen, Greenaway once stated that it's perfectly legitimate to interpret E.T. as a metaphor for the death and resurection of Christ and you know he could convince you straight away.

More savage and less playful than his earlier features - Drowning By Numbers, The Draughtsman's Contract and A Zed and Two Noughts to this point - The Cook The Thief....is a vivid Jacobean melodrama expressing disgust for consumerism, avarice and the vulgar manners of the nouveau riche. The setting is a ritzy restaurant owned by vicious criminal Albert Spica (Michael Gambon) who likes to hold court beneath an enormous Frans Hals reproduction and humiliate his wife Georgina (Helen Mirren) and chef Richard Borst (Richard Bohringer). Love, sex, revenge and death receive the Greenaway treatment once Georgina begins an affair with a regular diner, the bookish Michael (Alan Howard). This film still pushes the limits of censorship as we're treated to scenes of cannibalism, torture, graphic sex and an opening set-piece in which a naked man is forced to eat his own excrement before being urinated on.

If you can penetrate the deeper meaning of all this (or at least are willing to try) The Cook The Thief....is a challenge worth accepting. Visually it is magnificent, with Sacha Vierny's widescreen photography, Jean-Paul Gaultier's costumes and the production design of Ben Van Os and Jan Roelfs create an unforgetable interior landscape that is lurid, lush and brutally antiseptic by turns. While not Greenaway's best film - Gambon's tirades are too repetitive and too long - this is still very strong viewing and highly recommended for those who can approach cinema without fear.
Richard Kuipers

Published August 16, 2001

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You can buy it HERE - next day delivery within Australia

THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE AND HER LOVER (R18+)
U.K/France (1989)

CAST: Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren, Richard Bohringer, Alan Howard, Tim Roth.

DIRECTOR: Peter Greenaway

RUNNING TIME: 124 min

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: The AV Channel

DVD RELEASE: May 23, 2001

SPECIAL FEATURES: Widescreen 2.35:1, Trailer. Language: English. Subtitles: None







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