The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989) [4.5/5]


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.

"What you've got to realize is that the clever cook puts unlikely things together, like duck and orange, like pineapple and ham. It's called 'artistry'. You know, I am an artist the way I combine my business and my pleasure: Money's my business, eating's my pleasure and Georgie's my pleasure, too, though in a more private kind of way than stuffing the mouth and feeding the sewers, though the pleasures are related because the naughty bits and the dirty bits are so close together that it just goes to show how eating and sex are related. Georgie's naughty bits are nicely related, aren't they, Georgie?"

Five notions come to mind, almost immediately, when I begin to think about The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover;

1. The music is absolutely breathtaking.
2. A fine example of overt symbolism done well.
3. One of the greatest screenplays of the 20th century.
4. Brechtian techniques are utilized masterfully.
5. The ultimate lifestyle paradox is presented/critiqued here (especially when one takes into consideration the gorgeous production design juxtaposed with the repugnance of the characters).

Most importantly though, this film reveals the true colors of human nature, and I mean that both literally and figuratively.

-Eli Hayes