The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover
|The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Peter Greenaway|
|Produced by||Pascale Dauman
Daniel Toscan du Plantier
|Written by||Peter Greenaway|
|Music by||Michael Nyman|
|Editing by||John Wilson|
|Distributed by||Miramax Films|
|Running time||124 minutes
95 minutes (Edited cut)
The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover is a 1989 romantic crime drama written and directed by Peter Greenaway, starring Richard Bohringer, Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren, and Alan Howard in the titular roles. The film's graphic scatological, violent, and nude scenes, as well as its lavish cinematography and formalism were noted at the time of its release.
English gangster Albert Spica (Michael Gambon) has taken over the high-class Le Hollandais Restaurant, run by French chef Richard Borst (Richard Bohringer). 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 (Helen Mirren), who soon catches the eye of a quiet regular at the restaurant, bookshop owner Michael (Alan Howard). 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 bookshop. Borst sends food to Georgina through his young employee, 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, and torture him to death by force-feeding him pages from his books. Georgina discovers his body when she returns.
Overcome with rage and grief, she begs Borst to cook Michael's body, and he eventually complies. Together with all the people that Spica wronged throughout the film, Georgina confronts her husband at the restaurant and forces him to eat a mouthful of Michael's cooked body. Spica complies, gagging, before Georgina shoots him in the head.
- Richard Bohringer as Richard Borst, "The Cook": The owner and head chef of "Le Hollandais". He resents Albert Spica, who has taken control of the restaurant.
- Michael Gambon as Albert Spica, "The Thief": A violent gangster with pretensions of being a gourmet, but his coarse and violent behavior wreaks destruction on everyone around him.
- Helen Mirren as Georgina Spica, "The Wife": The sophisticated and battered wife of Albert Spica, from whom she has unsuccessfully tried to escape.
- Alan Howard as Michael, "The Lover": An erudite bookshop owner who dines at "Le Hollandais" every night while reading a book. He carries on a doomed affair with Georgina.
- Tim Roth as Mitchel, a dim-witted goon in Spica's gang.
- Liz Smith as Grace, Spica's mother, somnolent and no more suited to the enjoyment of fine dining than her son.
- Ciarán Hinds as Cory, a pimp who is ejected from Spica's gang after he protests Spica's brutal treatment of his girls.
- Roger Ashton-Griffiths as Turpin, the bespectacled book-keeper in Spica's gang.
- Ian Dury as Terry Fitch, in a rare acting appearance.
- Bob Goody as Starkie
Running time and rating in the US 
The film's original running time was 124 minutes. Due to the content, the MPAA gave Miramax a choice of either an X rating or go unrated (adults only) for theatrical release. Unrated was chosen in light of the X rating being more associated with pornographic films. Two versions of the film were released on VHS in the 1990s. One was an R-rated cut running 95 minutes (mainly for large video store chains); the other was the original version.
The Cook The Thief His Wife & Her Lover is the twelfth album release by Michael Nyman and the ninth to feature the Michael Nyman Band. The album includes the first commercially released recording of Memorial.
There is some music in the film not included on the soundtrack album: the love theme for Michael and Georgina, which is "Fish Beach" from Drowning by Numbers, the song performed as a show in the restaurant, or a doubly pulsed variation of Memorial that occurs about halfway through the film. Edits of "Memorial" appear throughout the film, with the entire twelve minute movement accompanying the final scene and end credits, but one variation is uniquely created for the film.
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- The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover at the Internet Movie Database
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- The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover at Box Office Mojo
- The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover at Rotten Tomatoes