08 19 Oct '24
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Peter Greenaway

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover

Edition 2023
124' - 1989 - Crime, Drama - Dialogue: Dutch, French, English
Director: Peter Greenaway Composer: Michael Nyman With: Helen Mirren, Michael Gambon, Tim Roth, Richard Bohringer
The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover is a visually striking and provocatively dark tale of power, lust, and vengeance set within the confines of a luxurious restaurant. This film navigates a macabre journey through the lives of its morally bankrupt characters, exploring the grotesque and decadent aspects of human nature in an unforgettable cinematic experience.
With this allegory of sex, violence, and cannibalism, Greenaway created one of his most sumptuous and cruel films. It's the work of a mild-mannered dandy who suddenly bares his teeth and dives into his haute cuisine dishes like a wolf. The entire story of this fable about the contrast between barbarism and culture unfolds within a gourmet restaurant adorned with a gigantic canvas by Frans Hals in the dining hall. Passion and deceit among the quartet in the title lead to a reckoning with the spectacular bloodiness and vulgarity of a Jacobin tragedy. However, the brutality is presented in a delightfully aestheticized manner, showcasing an unparalleled sense of composition, visual luxury, and manic attention to detail. Sacha Vierny is responsible for the lustrous color photography full of pictorial references, while Jean-Paul Gautier designed the extravagant costumes.
"A simple tale of adultery, jealousy and revenge, the film is built around four characters, the divisions of the restaurant (each room representing its historical epoch), the tradition of table painting, and the central metaphysical conceit linking mouth with anus, food with feces, and sex with death." - The Virgin Film Guide

Image gallery

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Peter Greenaway


Michael Nyman


Helen Mirren, Michael Gambon, Tim Roth, Richard Bohringer


Peter Greenaway

Director of Photography

Sacha Vierny


John Wilson


Kees Kasander

More information


Dutch, French, English

Countries of production

The Netherlands, United Kingdom, France



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