The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover on Laserdisc
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The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (punctuated onscreen as The Cook The Thief His Wife & Her Lover) is a 1989 film written and directed by Peter Greenaway starring Richard Bohringer, Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren and Alan Howard in the titular roles. Tim Roth plays a comical sidekick named Mitchell. This film is a black comedy, known as much for its depiction of cannibalism and frontal nudity as for its lavish and often breathtaking cinematography and formalism. Jean-Paul Gaultier designed the costumes, and Michael Nyman wrote the score. Giorgio Locatelli created the prop food. The titular characters all come together at the lavishly realized Hollandaise Restaurant. Crime lord Albert Spica (Michael Gambon) takes over a high class restaurant run by a French chef (Richard Bohringer) and populates it with his criminal underlings. As Spica continues to abuse his power and goes on tirade after tirade between rounds of abusing the restaurant's staff and patrons, his wife (Helen Mirren) begins a secretive affair with a silent, well read man (Alan Howard) who is a regular at La Hollandaise. Their affair goes on in the presence of many of the knowing restaurant staff. Spica is eventually made aware of this and goes about tracking down and enacting a horrible revenge on the couple in a series of impressively staged and imaginatively grotesque scenes leading up to the ultimate in just desserts. The Thief, Albert Spica (played by Gambon), is a violent gangster and part-owner of Le Hollandais, a restaurant which he and his circle of cronies, including his mother (Smith) and his favorite crony to insult (Roth), visit in the evenings. Although Spica has pretensions to be a gourmet, he is in fact coarse in his tastes and ignorant about cuisine, and is also violent and insulting towards the other guests.
Top customer reviews
The Hi-Def transfer appears to be quite nice, I didn't notice any greivous artifacts and the sound, while not great, is acceptable. I'm glad I took a chance with this specific copy, thanks to the recommendation of the other reviewer.
Now the movie...well, if you're here, you've either seen it or heard about it. I like to call the genre "Highly Stylized Twisted Psychotic Love Story", LOL! I'd group it with movies like 'Wild At Heart' and 'Blue Velvet'. This one has a very Euro feel of course, and is quite theatrical. I love the sets and lighting, it's all so over the top. Plus, Hellen Mirren is quite nice in her birthday suit, nothing at all like the usual bland skinny things so often exposed. I can't see anyone feeling ambivalent towards this movie. It's like 'Repo:The Genetic Opera', in that you will either love it or totally despise it.
I hope that helps someone out there on the interwebs.
Obviously, I agree with the other reviewers who gave this movie five stars. It would not be possible to compare TCTTHWAHL with any other movie, in terms of the lasting effect it had on my understanding of what a motion picture can truly be. In my opinion, everyone else (including those who walked out on a screening) just did not "get it".
The only observation I would add is about the significance of Greenaway's use of COLOR in the sets and the costumes. It represents such an incredibly unique innovation! Yet I cannot describe it, for fear of ruining your joy at discovering it for yourself. I did not make the connection in my own mind, until I was watching it for the third time. At that point, I was simply STUPEFIED, and had to watch it from the beginning yet again! Until then, I had only thought how wonderful it was that the colors were so rich and vibrant.
For those who have been fortunate enough to notice this incredible twist it is like "inside knowledge". For everyone else, the chance to discover this mystery feature for yourself, might be just enough to overcome your trepidation about other aspects of the film, which might give you pause.