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The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover (1990)

Richard Bohringer , Michael Gambon , Peter Greenaway  |  NC-17 |  DVD
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (193 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Richard Bohringer, Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren, Alan Howard, Tim Roth
  • Directors: Peter Greenaway
  • Writers: Peter Greenaway
  • Producers: Daniel Toscan du Plantier, Denis Wigman, Kees Kasander, Pascale Dauman
  • Format: Color, Anamorphic, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NC-17
  • Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
  • DVD Release Date: March 13, 2001
  • Run Time: 124 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (193 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000059LGL
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,178 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description


Few directors polarize audiences like Peter Greenaway, a filmmaker as influenced by Jacobean revenge tragedy and 17th century painting as by the French New Wave. The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover is both adored and detested for its combination of sumptuous beauty and revolting decadence. A vile, gluttonous thief (Michael Gambon, The Singing Detective) spews hate and abuse at a restaurant run by a stoic French cook (Richard Bohringer, Diva), but under the thief's nose his wife (the ever-sensuous Helen Mirren, Prime Suspect) conducts an affair with a bookish lover (Alan Howard, Strapless). Clothing (by avant-garde designer Jean-Paul Gaultier) changes color as the characters move from room to room. Nudity, torture, rotting meat, and Tim Roth (Reservoir Dogs) at his sleaziest all contribute the atmosphere of decay and excess. Not for everyone, but for some, essential. --Bret Fetzer

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
113 of 128 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh my goodness! June 15, 2004
I went into Peter Greenaway's "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover" with blinders on. I had absolutely no idea what to expect as the movie started, none whatsoever. I slightly suspected the director made "art" films due to a faint recollection of a discussion I saw on a bulletin board years ago, but that was all I could remember. Heck, I thought Uma Thurman was in this film for some reason! Obviously, this was my first experience with Greenaway, a director I have since learned is noted for creating disturbing films designed to upset audiences. I'll bet this masterpiece had arty types fleeing for the doors! Boy, I wish I'd seen this in an art house when it came out. I'm used to seeing films dealing with subject matter far worse than this one, but viewers who spend their time watching pictures about relationships and strolls through a park on a sunny day aren't. Yes, Greenaway's film deals with abhorrent themes expressed in undeniably grotesque forms. Yes, the picture has ugly scenes of violence. Yes, relationships of a decidedly revealing nature play a big part in the plot. What did you expect from a NC-17 rated picture? Don't worry-you can handle it. Actually, you'll probably be glad that you sat through it because this is a marvelous movie.
"The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover" starts on a particularly memorable note. Big time gangster and thief Albert Spica (Michael Gambon), his wife Georgina (Helen Mirren), and his entourage pull up to the back door of a fancy restaurant run by the fabulous French chef Richard Borst (Richard Bohringer), ready for a night of fine dining and obnoxious behavior. Spica is a notorious brute, a beefy, sadistic thug who enjoys tormenting everyone around him, especially his wife Georgina.
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103 of 122 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This demands a widescreen DVD version December 22, 1999
By alaska
Format:VHS Tape
I don't get it. Leprechaun 2 is available on DVD, and this isn't.
I remember when this was released, it had just gotten a very positive review in the NY Times, and the theater was packed. Well, by the end of the film, there were plenty of empty seats. I've never seen so many people walk out on a movie, or in such a steady flow. It was as though the people who found it distasteful had very different levels of tolerance, or perhaps that the film offered an unusually broad selection of potentially offensive subjects. There were actually people who walked out during the last 10 minutes. Still, there were plenty of viewers who were transfixed by this exquisite film, including me. In fact, I had to go see it again the very next day. I can't remember being quite so affected by any movie.
Helen Mirren and Michael Gambon are both very good here, but what really sets this film apart are the stunning, painterly compositions and the lush cinematography (by Sacha Vierny). The brutal violence, the dialogue, the characters and plot all serve as a background to the film's dazzling visual spectacle. This inversion is somewhat typical of Peter Greenaway's films in general, but this is perhaps his masterpiece. In short, I can't imagine a more necessary addition to the DVD canon.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Greenaway's Best April 13, 2005
"Bon soir. Welcome to Le Hollandaise. You have a reservation? Many reservations? We are the best restaurant in all of London. It is not necessary to worry about eating at Le Hollandaise. Let me show you to your table. This way, please. Ignore the buffoon at that table."

Le Hollandaise is the fictional restaurant setting for Peter Greenaway's controversial 1989 film "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover". It was my first exposure to the work of Peter Greenaway and I fell in love. "Cook" is also Greenaway's most well known, most controversial and, therefore, financially successful film. After watching the film, watching many people walk out, I sought out Greenaway's earlier works and have been a faithful follower of his new films.

The Cook (Richard Bohringer) is the owner of Le Hollandaise, a grand, snooty restaurant serving the elite of London's upper class. He has a reputation for creating the most wonderful dishes. The Thief (Michael Gambon) makes himself a partner of the restaurant, forcing his favors upon the Cook and holding court in the restaurant every evening. His boorish manners and atrocious attitude towards everyone begins to have an effect on The Wife (Helen Mirren). Georgina can't stand her abusive, stupid, loud husband. One evening, she spots The Lover (Alan Howard) sitting alone at another table, his face buried in a book. He looks up. Soon, he follows her into the ladies room and they begin their affair under the nose of her husband. Each night, they become closer but also come closer to getting caught. The Cook soon aids in their liaisons.

In any Greenaway film, the most important aspect of the film is the design. This is closely followed by some sort of system and the story and subject matter closely follow that.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deliciously grotesque June 13, 2000
By Kali
Format:VHS Tape
If you want a film that will churn your stomach, make your eyes water and have you flinching in a way you never thought possible then this film is DEFINATELY for you. I didn't think I would like it at all, but it is one of the best offbeat films I have ever watched. Helen Mirren is superb as the down trodden wife of a vicious gangster played to perfection by Michael Gambon. Set in a restaurant we are treated to a visual feast of decadence galore as each night Gambon and his cohorts meet in the same restaurant to enjoy the culinary delights of Richard Bohringer who plays the restaurant's cook. It's not long before Helen Mirren finds comfort in the arms of a fellow diner, and their first encounter is in the ladies toilet where they succumb to their passion. It's not long before they enjoying more than just the food in the restaurant each night, and the Cook and his staff discreetly ignore their illicit meetings. However the deception cannot last and Gambon finds out that his wife is being unfaithful and extracts a horrific revenge on Helen's lover. But Helen has found in herself a strength she never knew she had and with the aid of the Cook, she organizes a counter revenge that is shockingly outrageous but totally appropriate. Peter Greenaway has created a masterpiece in "The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover," it is visually stunning, utterly grotesque, totally disgusting in parts and so outrageous it is no wonder that people walked out of the cinema before the film had ended. However, if you want something that shocks the socks off you then get buy or rent this film. It's deliciously grotesque and it is a shame this film is not yet available on DVD.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This movie is like a beautiful dark moving oil painting by one of the masters
Published 21 days ago by Charles Anstadt
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Best (and toughest) movie ever made! Love this every time I watch it.
Published 1 month ago by Karen Jarratt
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cook, The Chief, His Wife and Her Lover
I enjoyed this a lot. It requires multiple viewings. Revelations are revieled and appreciated each time. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Joyce L. Buckley
5.0 out of 5 stars but I find her incredibly sexy & a fine actress. You will see plenty...
I'm 51 years old, so Helen Mirren is a little older than me; but I find her incredibly sexy & a fine actress. You will see plenty of her in many ways in this movie. Read more
Published 1 month ago by steve bergeson
1.0 out of 5 stars The title is the best thing about this vedio
Not worth watching.
Published 2 months ago by Geradine Dinardo
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Not my choice of theme.
Published 2 months ago by Edmund Webb
1.0 out of 5 stars Never watched the whole movie because the star did nothing ...
Never watched the whole movie because the star did nothing but cover people with feces and yell at everyone. I gave up.
Published 3 months ago by Betty Elliott
5.0 out of 5 stars great flick for Blu-ray
if you like strange this movie is for you. and if you have a thing for Helen Merrin, like i do, it is especially for you. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Matthew K. Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Intersting Movie
Cook-Thief-Wife and Her Lover, is an interesting movie, though not for the faint hearted, not a first date movie unless you both like this genre of movies. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Hodnett
4.0 out of 5 stars Good older movie...
This is a very entertaining movie. It is a bit old .but still packs the goods.Watch it twice to get the full affect...
Published 4 months ago by bobby
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Region One DVD release?
I don't know what the situation was back in 2006, but these days you can pick up a region-free machine (i.e. Coby or Craig) for less than $40.
Feb 17, 2008 by A. J. Stavsky |  See all 7 posts
To the cheap nummskulls selling this
Your my hero, can you please show me how I can be just like you, pretty please with sugar on top!
Apr 1, 2009 by Billy The Count Von Yinga |  See all 2 posts
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