The Cook the Thief His Wife & Her Lover

April 6, 1990 0 By Fans
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The wife of an oafish restaurant owner becomes bored with her husband and considers an affair with a regular patron.

Release Year: 1989

Rating: 7.4/10 (15,846 voted)

Peter Greenaway

Stars: Richard Bohringer, Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren

The wife of a barbaric crime boss engages in a secretive romance with a gentle bookseller between meals at her husband's restaurant. Food, colour coding, sex, murder, torture and cannibalism are the exotic fare in this beautifully filmed but brutally uncompromising modern fable which has been interpreted as an allegory for Thatcherism.


Richard Bohringer

Richard Borst

Michael Gambon

Albert Spica

Helen Mirren

Georgina Spica

Alan Howard


Tim Roth


Ciarán Hinds


Gary Olsen


Ewan Stewart


Roger Ashton-Griffiths


Ron Cook


Liz Smith


Emer Gillespie


Janet Henfrey


Arnie Breeveld


Tony Alleff


Lust…Murder…Dessert. Bon Appetit!

Release Date: 6 April 1990

Filming Locations: Goldcrest Elstree Studios, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, England, UK

Gross: $7,724,701

Technical Specs


(R-rated version)

Did You Know?


Peter Greenaway uses specific colors to represent each set of the film. The exterior of Le Hollandais is predominantly blue. The kitchen is mostly green. The seating area of the restaurant is red and the restrooms are stark white. The color of Georgina's dress and the sashes that Albert and his associates wear change to match this scheme as the characters move from room to room. The color of Georgina's cigarettes also changes to match the color of the set as she moves.


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User Review

The Divine Comedy

Rating: 10/10

Imagine the universe as a restaurant. The parking lot is the world. The
kitchen is purgatory. The ladies's room is heaven. The dining room is
hell. Hell is ruled over by Albert Spica, (Satan) excellently played by
Michael Gobon. Dante is Michael (Alan Howard) a cataloger of French
books. Beatrice, Dante's perfect woman, Georgina Spica (Helen Mirren)
who is married to the devil.

In the beginning, the cook (God) in the real world is seen kicked and
smeared and fed dog feces by Gabon. He is humiliated and in tears, but
He endures and eventually helps to further the love between Howard and
MIrren. Sex, in its pure form, is looked at as something sacred. Gabon
lords over everyone in his realm with a tyrant's fist, caring nothing
about anyone or anything. He wants two three things out of
life—superiority to all other being, food and sex, while Mirren, as a
reluctant Persephone, sneaks off to be with Howard. A couple of times
Gabon even finds his way into the sanctity of heaven, but this is only

The mood of the film is dark-black, heralded by brilliant reds or
greens, and the tenor of an angelic child throughout. Every image is
like a painting. Emotions creep in from all directions.

This is a film that would never, no matter what year it was produced,
have won an Academy Award. It is too refined, to subtle, too sensual,
too intelligent.

Watch it, rent it, buy it. It must be seen.