The Cook, The Thief, The Wife & Her Lover

The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover

classified 18

Gluttony, Decadence and Resistance


Please note: This was screened in July 2019

Peter Greenaway
Richard Bohringer, Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren, Alan Howard
124 mins, 1989, UK
Primary language

Inspired by John Ford's Jacobean tragedy, 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, Peter Greenaway's The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover takes Ford's critique of passion and deceit and presents it with a sour British twist.

Given an X rating in the US, and creating a furore on home shores for its allegory on Thatcherism, Greenaway's infamous avant-garde crime dramedy is a foul feast on Britain's social, moral and political carcass.

Georgina (Helen Mirren) is the wife of abusive gangster Albert (Michael Gambon), and takes solace in the kind and lustful arms of another. Desire and deceit come to the fore in a fine French restaurant, but this film is anything but high-class.

Greenaway’s palette is like a technicolour yawn of rich, primary colours that splash across the screen in a violent but incredibly skilful way. Like a moving painting, his savage attack on the social ills of the 1980s is both opulent and masterful. But beware, this invitation to dinner goes completely off menu.

35mm print courtesy of Contemporary Films