THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE and HER LOVER
DIRECTOR:                PETER GREENAWAY
ENGLAND/FRANCE 1989
MUSIC:                       MICHAEL NYMAN
CINEMATOGRAPHY: SASHA VIERNY
WITH:                         Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren, Richard Bohringer, Alan Howard, Tim Roth, Ian Dury
ONE WORD:             Superlative intellectual satire/comedy ... very European


BEWARE...............BEWARE..............BEWARE
This film may not suit your tastes,....specially if you are ticklish about some behavior that you might not be comfortable with.

Most incredible thing in this film. Helen Mirren

Worst thing in this film. The poetic justice ending. Not for many guys, and definitely not for the squeamish.

Tiring parts of the film. It is over indulgent in every sense,... thus the ending.

Excellent parts of the film. When there is LOVE and RESPECT it is dreamy and sensual and extremelly beautiful. Where there is recklessness and disorderly conduct, the film is ugly, abusive, and tasteless.

The film is for the most part, so it seems, Ad libido. It has political over tones about the upper class which is a bit edgy.

But for all this, were it not for these extremes all together in one space of a couple of hours, this film wouldn't be what it is. Peter Greenaway's films are always too intellectual and talky, even if it is about trash, and this film still has a bit of that. But at least, it has enough material and ideas to fill in the middle to prevent it from degenerating too soon and
threaten to expose the end, without surprising the viewer, which is its strong point.

In almost all of Greenaway's films (A Zed and Two Nots; The Droughtman's Contract; The Belly of An Architect; Drowning by Numbers) the male characters are all either seen as over indulgent, over intellectualized, and with no exceptions, almost always 'in charge' of their women who live subservient lives. All in all, COOK is a break from that and sets up
DROWNING BY NUMBERS where the women are now conniving witches. Helen Mirren makes for an intelligent wife, who knows what she is doing, and eventually gains the upper hand. In so doing, she brings about her very own liberation from the hands of a petty tyrant.

Highly recommended if you are a serious film buff.

Please stay away if you are into the Terminator/Batman mode....this film is really rated X for its explicit-ness, gross-ness, and XXX otherwise for the ending and should not be SEEN, unless you are a MATURE adult, really interested in the old idiom of the literary world ART FOR ART'S SAKE.

And it is one of those films where a lot of unexpected things take place right in front of you and the camera style helps ... it does not do the usual Hollywood thing with cross shots and such and a lot of the dialogue is English stage style ... big ... really big ... with a keen sense of what the wording means and when it is said ... and this is the film's amazing point and strength. However, not all that glitters is gold, and some of the moments in here are amazing and totally insane in many ways, and you probably will appreciate the ending as poetic justice, but nevertheless ... one of those things that make us go ... wow ... did I just see that?

Hard to judge this film, and just about any other by Peter Greenaway, by the acting. It seems that no one knows what they are doing, except what they want to do, and there is no second thought whatsoever, and this makes for an insane satire on the higher levels of society and it's exaggerated pompousness, but even that statement is simplistic and may completely miss the point. In the end, it is hard to figure out what the point is ... and to come away feeling good about the film, with one exception. The wife got her revenge and then some ... and that's all you can really drum up off this film.

It is insane, it is amazing and Michael Gambon is excellent, as is Helen Mirren, in what would seem to be an impossible dialogue to work with and make sense of. And Michael Gambon tears it up left and right like it is nothing to him, and that is quite an enjoyable sight.

Beware that this is not a fun film to sit through, and requires a strong stomach and a keen and astute mind at times, or half of it goes right by you like ... what the heck is going on? Very little of what is in the film is actually wasted and this is what Peter Greenaway is all about, and he never gives in to the film temptation of telling you what is going to happen, or is happening until you see it, which gives you a sense of ... wow ... that happened!

You've been warned. And yes, it is a very good film. It's just not something that the "masses" can sit through and enjoy.

4 GIBLOONS

 

 

 

   

      

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