One of the first NC-17 films, The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover is The Less Desirables Movie of the Week. I first “saw” this film when it came to VHS back in 1990 and truthfully I only half watched it. I spent more time looking for the nudity and sex and I will tell you, there are plenty of that. I fast forwarded through most of the story just to see the nudity. Let’s face it, I was a horny teenager. That’s that. That’s honesty.
So this time I took the time to watch the film – whilst still paying close attention to the nudity and sex (I’m 44, not dead) – and it wasn’t bad. Rotten Tomatoes has it at 90% Fresh and a user score of 89%. I watched it on Netflix and it was directed by Peter Greenaway. In fact, it’s probably the biggest thing he’s done; certainly the most controversial.
The breakdown is this: Richard Boarst, the cook, played by Richard Bohringer hates mobster Albert Spica, the thief, played by pre-Dumbledor Michael Gambon because the mobster came in and took over his restaurant, claiming it for himself. The always hot Helen Mirren plays Spica’s wife, Georgina who is a verbally and possibly physically abused woman who is bored and disinterested in her abusive husband. She notices a bookworm named Michael, played by Alan Howard and somehow they start a clandestine, secret affair in the bathroom, kitchen, coolers, parking lot, wherever they can get. Albert starts throwing his weight around and embarrasses Michael one day because he is in “his” restaurant reading books. As it goes, Albert finds out about the affair and tries to hunt them down. The cook, in his defiance, helps the couple escape whilst unknowingly or unwittingly alerting Albert about their whereabouts. I won’t get into the rest because I’d be giving away the ending and it’s something to see.
Seeing Helen Mirren naked through MOST of the film is one of the plusses of watching it. She looked great then, before when she was in Caligula, and now. Michael Gambon never lets up and is under your skin, as a viewer, from the very first scene. Tim Roth and the late singer Ian Dury have supporting roles. The scenes were mostly dark and went well with the comedy noir happening. The bathroom scenes were all very bright. Light and dark. Some heaven and hell, if you will. Some compare this story to Dante’s Inferno or a story of God and Satan fighting. I don’t know much about that, but I thought it was interesting how it played out.
I won’t say it’s a fantastic film but it is very interesting and it is worth watching; for the story and for the sex and nudity. It drags a bit at times but it does come through at the end. I recommend watching it, but with the caveat that it is definitely not for every one’s tastes. I rate it 3 stars (mostly because of the sex and nudity) and invite you to tell me your thoughts on it if you’ve seen it or after you do watch it.
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“Looks like catfood for constipated French rabbits!” – Albert Spica (Michael Gambon)