The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover
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The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover
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… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Albert is one of the ugliest characters ever brought to the screen. Ignorant, over-bearing and violent, it's a gloriously rich performance by Gambon."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"It doesn't simply make a show of being uncompromising -- it is uncompromised in every single shot from beginning to end."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"[VIDEO ESSAY] ... a masterpiece of British cinema built on several hundred years of literary tradition. The film must be viewed more than once to begin to apprehend its strong and subtle layers of rope-thick satire."
‑ Cole Smithey,
"Highly stylized and elegant Jacobean revenge tale over adultery and jealousy that rolls against the taste buds like a mouth full of hot pepper."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"Despite its compelling nature, Greenaways film is not always an easy one to sit through."
‑ Marjorie Baumgarten, Austin Chronicle
"For a Jacobean-style drama about deadly emotions, the film lacks passion; only in the final half-hour, with Michael Nyman's funereal music supplying a welcome gravity, does it at last exert a stately power."
‑ Geoff Andrew, Time Out
"Greenaway, the bemused, coolly ironic truth-teller, has painted a cruel portrait for a cruel time."
‑ Hal Hinson, Washington Post
"Take it or leave it: Greeanway's contemporary Jacobean drama, about greed, adultery and cannibalism, is brutal, provocative and visually brilliant."
‑ Emanuel Levy, Screendaily
"The Cook, the Thief. His Wife and Her Lover is a dark and grim morality play about our insatiable appetite for cruelty and power."
‑ Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice
"Singular and unforgettable, but also grotesque and hyper-inflated; hard to pass up, but harder to sit through."
‑ Nick Davis, Nick's Flick Picks
"A work so intelligent and powerful that it evokes our best emotions and least civil impulses, so esthetically brilliant that it expands the boundaries of film itself."
‑ Caryn James, New York Times
"Taboos? If director Peter Greenaway has any, you can't tell by this film."
‑ James Berardinelli, ReelViews
"Still the most lavishly offensive of Greenaway's films."
‑ Rob Nelson, City Pages, Minneapolis/St. Paul
"Startling and bold!"
‑ Victoria Alexander,
"Disturbed, deranged and utterly brilliant."
‑ Widgett Walls,
More reviews for The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover on Rotten Tomatoes