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

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… More

Directed By:
Rated: NC-17
Running Time:
Release Date: September 11, 1989
DVD Release Date: March 13, 2001
Add Your Rating
Rotten Tomatoes™
Critic Score
User Score

Also Available On

Critic Score: 89% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews

Consensus: This romantic crime drama may not be to everyone's taste, but The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover is an audacious, powerful film.

Variety Staff

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.

Full review…
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times

It doesn't simply make a show of being uncompromising -- it is uncompromised in every single shot from beginning to end.

Full review…
Cole Smithey

[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.

Full review…
Geoff Andrew
Time Out

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.

Full review…
Hal Hinson
Washington Post

Greenaway, the bemused, coolly ironic truth-teller, has painted a cruel portrait for a cruel time.

Full review…
Emanuel Levy

Take it or leave it: Greeanway's contemporary Jacobean drama, about greed, adultery and cannibalism, is brutal, provocative and visually brilliant.

Full review…
Caryn James
New York Times

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.

James Berardinelli

Taboos? If director Peter Greenaway has any, you can't tell by this film.

Full review…
Rob Nelson
City Pages, Minneapolis/St. Paul

Still the most lavishly offensive of Greenaway's films.

Full review…

Flixster Audience Score: 88% Flixster User Reviews
Carlos Magalh„es
A gorgeous and stylized gem that will prove to be of hard digestion (yes, pun intended) for many viewers, but those with an open mind will find a lot more to it… More
David Ladd
This is a film I hadn't watched in a while and I have to say after I pulled out my DVD and took a look at the film again it still hasn't lost any of… More
Pierluigi Puccini
Poetic justice never felt quite as satisfyingly disgusting as in this antinomic and mesmerizing fable. the stench of vulgarity and violence pours out from a… More
Stella Dallas
a brutal gangster film with set design like northern rennaissance painting, costumes by gaultier and a wonderful score. great cast, especially michael gambon,… More
Alex roy
At first viewing of Peter Greenaway The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and her Lover I immediately realize that it's a powerful, visual film that uses each… More
Lafe Fredbjornson
Gruesome and offensive, set in a restaurant, enough to make one lose their appetite. A wealthy thief (Michael Gambon) plays a cruel boorish husband who delights… More