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

Thirty-one years ago today, the film The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Simply a beautiful movie to watch, with great actors. You must see this movie.

Title: The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover
Directed by: Peter Greenaway
Produced by: Pascale Dauman, Kees Kasander, Daniel Toscan du Plantier, Denis Wigman
Written by: Peter Greenaway
Starring: Richard Bohringer, Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren, Alan Howard
Music by: Michael Nyman
Cinematography: Sacha Vierny
Edited by: John Wilson
Costumes: Jean-Paul Gaultier
Production Companies: Allarts, Elsevier-Vendex
Distributed by: Palace Pictures, Miramax
Release date: 11 September 1989 (TIFF), 13 October 1989 (UK), 1 November 1989 (France)
Running time: 124 minutes
Country: United Kingdom, France
Language: English
Box office: $7.7 million (North America)

English gangster Albert Spica has taken over the high-class Le Hollandais Restaurant, managed by French chef Richard Boarst. Spica makes nightly appearances at the restaurant with his retinue of thugs. His oafish behavior causes frequent confrontations with the staff and his own customers, whose patronage he loses, but whose money he seems not to miss.

Forced to accompany Spica is his reluctant, well-bred wife, Georgina, who soon catches the eye of a quiet regular at the restaurant, bookshop owner Michael. Under her husband’s nose, Georgina carries on an affair with Michael with the help of the restaurant staff. Ultimately Spica learns of the affair, forcing Georgina to hide out at Michael’s book depository. Boarst sends food to Georgina through his young employee Pup, a boy soprano who sings while working. Spica tortures the boy before finding the bookstore’s location written in a book the boy is carrying. Spica’s men storm Michael’s bookshop while Georgina is visiting the boy in hospital. They torture Michael to death by force-feeding him pages from his books. Georgina discovers his body when she returns.

Overcome with rage and grief, she begs Boarst to cook Michael’s body, and he eventually complies. Together with all the people that Spica wronged throughout the film, Georgina confronts her husband finally at the restaurant and forces him at gunpoint to eat a mouthful of Michael’s cooked body. Spica obeys, gagging. Georgina then shoots him in the head, calling him a cannibal.

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2 comments

  1. I remember when this film came out and seeing it in the theatre. It is truly a beautiful film despite the gory ending. I always dreamed of being able to go to such a beautiful large restaurant. The film Counting by Numbers was also done by the same guy. Good film, but not as beautiful as this one. Thanks for the post. 🙂

    Like

  2. I saw this film with my husband when it came out. We have much appreciation for it at the time. However, one scene has entered into our bank of family memes. Sometimes when my husband is wanting others to help him wash the dishes, he sings lamentingly in a falsetto, harkening back to the scene with the young blond kid.

    Liked by 1 person

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