Sunday, January 15, 2012

Retro Review: "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover.

The Cook, The Theif, His Wife, & Her Lover.  (1989)

Cast: Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren

Writer and Director: Peter Greenaway

***'s out of four.

Available on Netflix streaming right now.

Right when this film opens, it grabs a hold of you.  It has great cinematography and very good acting from it's main leads that I would recommend it just on that alone.  The movie does contain some very violent moments and even though nothing really too graphic is ever shown.  I can understand why some people would have problems with it.  Sex and nudity are also rampant throughout, so if that kind of material offends you.  You may want to stay away.  For all others looking to taste something you have not seen before.  I highly recommend "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, & Her Lover.

   You might be able to understand what this story is about just from the title alone. Albert(Michael Gambon) is the thief who bullies everyone into getting things his way.  He co owns a restaurant with Richard( Richard Bohringer) the cook, but I don't think he actually gets any residuals.  Albert's wife Georgina(Helen Mirren) is getting pretty irritate with her husband's boorish behavior and the abuse she gets from him. that when she actually meets Michael( Alan Howard ) it's a breath of fresh air for her.  Despite the dangers involved, the two decide to begin an affair at the restaurant right under Albert's nose.

Michael Gambon as Albert turns in one of the most violent despicable performances since Dennis Hopper in "Blue Velvet"  I couldn't help but laugh a little when I saw him as the lovable Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series. The two characters are so different from each other it's almost difficult to believe it's the same actor. Although some have said his performance can get a little over the top at times  The film's massive nudity I mentioned earlier is courtesy of Helen Mirren and Alan Howard.  If you only know Miss Mirren from her recent roles you might forget that she was once pretty damn sexy.  Actually she is still pretty damn sexy, and I like it that she decides to age gracefully instead of having surgery.    The moments her and Howard are naked together never feels gratuitous or pornographic.  Their love scenes are shot almost like a 17 century painting by cinematographer Sacha Vierny.

(Clip Courtesy of Miramax Films. This scene contains adult language and violence against women and animals. I'm posting it so you can see the great performances and it's beautiful cinematography)

This is very much the perfect definition of an art film.  It has elaborate tracking shots and  long moments that focus just on the setting.  There are even moments including a young boy singing soprano all of a sudden that would feel out of place in other films.   The third act of the film could have been trimmed down a bit and I really didn't like Geogina's very final action before the curtain closes.  I really liked what she does beforehand and thought the movie should end right there.  I'm not going to give away the ending.  You'll have to watch it for yourself.  

If this movie doesn't hold your interest within the first ten minutes than it's not for you.  For all others, Bon Apatite.


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