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Cook the Thief His Wife & Her Lover 18 rating

Helen Mirren and Michael Gambon star in Peter Greenaway’s audacious, still shocking cinematic delicacy.

Drama 1989 124 mins

Director: Peter Greenaway


Helen Mirren and Michael Gambon star in Peter Greenaway’s audacious cinematic delicacy, a shocking Jacobean tragedy peppered with of forthright sex and shocking violence.

Spica (Gambon) is the mafioso owner of a gourmet restaurant who thinks nothing of abusing the guests at his once-upmarket establishment, much to the chagrin of the Chef (Richard Bohringer). Disgusted with his behaviour, Spica’s wife Georgina (Mirren) begins an affair with one of the bookish regulars (Alan Howard), leading to an almighty tailspin of perverse violence and revenge. The film that shocked Cannes’ audience and gave headaches to American distributors back in 1989 remains a cornerstone of British arthouse cinema. With music my Michael Nyman, costumes by Jean-Paul Gaultier and prop food by Giorgio Locatelli, all filmed in Greenaway’s singular style of baroque formalism, it represented a culmination of the director’s career-to-date and went on to become an unexpected, scandalising crossover hit.