The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover

Infobox Film
name = The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover

image_size =
caption = Theatrical release poster
director = Peter Greenaway
producer = Pascale Dauman Daniel Toscan du Plantier Kees Kasander Denis Wigman
writer = Peter Greenaway
narrator =
starring = Richard Bohringer Michael Gambon Helen Mirren Alan Howard Tim Roth Liz Smith Ciarán Hinds Paul Russell Ian Dury
music = Michael Nyman
cinematography = Sacha Vierny
editing = John Wilson
distributor = Miramax
released = September 11, 1989 (Toronto Film Festival) flagicon|USA April 6, 1990
runtime = Theatrical version:
123 min.
R-rated version:
95 min.
country = UK France Netherlands
language =
budget =
preceded_by =
followed_by =
website =
amg_id = 1:10921
imdb_id = 0097108

"The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover" (punctuated onscreen as "The Cook The Thief His Wife & Her Lover") is a fy|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 for its depiction of frontal nudity as well as its lavish cinematography and formalism.

Plot summary

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 La Hollandaise, 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.
* The Cook, Richard Borst (played by Bohringer), is Spica's head chef. He despises Spica, but also fears him and is obliged to stay.
* The Wife, Georgina Spica (played by Mirren), is regularly abused by her husband Albert, terrified of him, and has tried to escape but is routinely found and brought back to his mansion.
* The Lover, Michael (played by Howard), is one of the other guests in La Hollandaise. While dining one evening, Georgina begins to take an interest in him, and begins an extramarital affair with him, eventually in the kitchen of La Hollandaise with Richard's collusion.


Jean-Paul Gaultier designed the costumes, and Michael Nyman wrote the score, which prominently incorporated his 1985 composition, "Memorial". Giorgio Locatelli created the prop food.

Running time/rating controversy

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 lieu 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 that is 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 restuarant, 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.

External links

* [ "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover" at]
*imdb title|id=0097108|title=The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover

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