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The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover Details


This is probably Peter Greenaway's most famous (or infamous) film, which first shocked audiences at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival and then on both sides of the Atlantic. A gang leader (Michael Gambon), accompanied by his wife (Helen Mirren) and his associates, entertains himself every night in a fancy French restaurant that he has recently bought. Having tired of her sadistic, boorish husband, the wife finds herself a lover (Alan Howard) and makes love to him in the restaurant's coziest places with the silent permission of the cook (Richard Bohringer). Though less cerebral than Greenaway's other films, featuring deadly passions reminiscent of Jacobean revenge tragedies of the early 17th century, the picture still offers the director's usual ironic and paradoxical comments on the relations between eating and sex, love and death. The film is at once funny and horrific, and those who are not used to Greenaway's peculiar style might be even disgusted or shocked; however, one might mention Sacha Vierny's brilliant camerawork, Jean-Paul Gaultier's gaudily stylized costumes, and Michael Nyman's somber, pulsating music, which will haunt the viewer long after the film's end. ~ Yuri German, Rovi

  • Release date:April 6, 1990


Awarded by
Independent Spirit Awards Peter Greenaway Best Foreign Film 2013 Nominee


Richard Bohringer
as Richard Borst, the Cook
Michael Gambon
as Albert Spica, the Thief
Helen Mirren
as Georgina Spica, the Wife
Alan Howard
as Michael, the Lover
Tim Roth
as Mitchel
Ciarán Hinds
as Cory
Liz Smith
as Grace
Gary Olsen
as Spangler
Ewan Stewart
as Harris
Roger Ashton-Griffiths
as Turpin
Ron Cook
as Mews
Pauline Mayer
as Fish Girl
Tony Alleff
as Troy
Gary Logan
as Waiter
John Mullis
as Diner
Ben Stoneham
as Meat Boy
Willie Ross
as Roy
Diane Langton
as May Fitch
Tim Geary
as Waiter
Sue Maund
as Kitchen Staff
Prudence Oliver
as Corelle Fitch
Patricia Walters
Ian Dury
as Terry Fitch
Roger Lloyd Pack
as Geoff
Saffron Rainey
as Waiter
Nick Brozovic
as Kitchen Staff
Alex Kingston
as Adele
Karrie Pagano
as Kitchen Staff
Michael Maguire
as Waiter
Janet Henfrey
as Alice
Peter Rush
as Melter
Michael Clark
as Waiter
Paul Russell
as Pup
Sophie Goodchild
as Dancer
Elmer Gillespie
as Patricia


Peter Greenaway
Kees Kasander
Denis Wigman
Pascale Dauman
Daniel Toscan du Plantier
Peter Greenaway
Sacha Vierny
Michael Nyman
Composer (Music Score)
John Wilson
Ben Van Os
Production Designer
Jan Roelfs
Production Designer
Jean-Paul Gaultier
Costume Designer
Sjoerd Didden
Sara Meerman