Wednesday, October 26, 2011

THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE AND HER LOVER (1989) - Peter Greenaway

"Try the cock. I hear it's a delicacy."
- Helen Mirren as "The Wife" Georgina

The above is probably one of the LEAST crude lines uttered in The Cook, The Thief, a movie I hadn't seen since it first came out in 1989. Most of those lines are reserved for Michael Gambon's "The Thief," perhaps the most boorish character in all of film history. This is a beautifully shot film (as are most of Greenaway's) but also one of his most re-watchable (unlike, say, Prospero's Books). It takes great pains to remind us again and again of the intimate relations between eating, sex and excretion, all in gloriously art-designed, NC-17 rated color.

Helen Mirren, a few years shy of 40 when this was made, proves once again she is game for anything. She even makes sex in the loo (or on a butcher's table or in a meat freezer) seem somehow regal. Though Gambon may have all the best, most boorish lines, this is Mirren's movie. She doesn't need much. She sums it up with a word and a bullet. "Cannibal."

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