Cook, the Thief, the Wife, and her Lover is a film created by Peter Greenaway in 1989, he also known for Prospero's Books (1991), Drowning by Numbers (1988) and The Falls (1980), with the help from Ben van Os and Jan Roelfs they would create the most lustful yet disturbing film of 1989.
The narrative is a mixture between abuse towards a loved one, lust that the characters feel for one another but ultimately end in tragedy and the appetite of food and the body, the film’s narrative is a French restaurant owned by a thug named Albert Spica, thinks that his ideas for the restaurant and his food choices is what people want more importantly what he wants, for his wife Georgina, though this makes her frustrated and annoyed at her husband at his behaviour until she gives the lustful looks to a character named Michael narrative kicks off, the rest of the film is about how lustful Michael and Georgine were, how they slowly become together as if the film will have a happy ending but it twists the idea resulting in horrifying ideas and images.
The main aspects that viewers will notice about this film is the re-occurring theme of lust and appetite, for it is shown in many ways in the film for physical lust by Michael and Georgina to the set design and colouring. This truly demonstrates how far the director wanted to go with this film is a pushing the boundaries of how to demonstrate this theme for Roger Ebert says “The sex scenes in this movie are as hungry and passionate as any I have seen, and yet they are upstaged by the rest of the film, which is so uncompromising in its savagery that the sex seems tranquil by comparison.”(Ebert, 1999) What this means is that not only appetite shown by the minute eating of food but also how Georgina feels like she hacks to be with Michael every minute she sees him she has to devour his body through her own. This makes it interesting for audiences for we would not like appetite to a sexual manner but is still a long way in the film that makes the audience think about how appetite can be more than just one thing it could be multiple things which are done very well in this film, A good demonstration of this appetite is a scene where Georgina is looking at Michael whilst eating you could almost see it in her eyes how sexual she’s being and the way she's looking at Michael as if she wants to just gobble him up as demonstrated in figure 2.
The colour scheming in this film is done in a way that audiences can connect what is going on in terms of mode and feelings, for example every time when the characters enter into the kitchen the viewer will find themselves thinking of linking the green colour to read as greed as if no matter what you cannot get enough of this food, but the important colour out of all of them is red for it comes off as “Thematically, depicting lust, adultery, jealousy and revenge, “The Cook” is a variation of film noir—only more brutal and in colour” (Levy, 2011) This quote makes a good remark at this colour. Red is always being associated with 2 things, one of danger and death however in this film it's heavily used to symbolise lust and sex in the film well that it helps the chemistry of Georgina and Michael lust for each other. The way the red clothing and red atmosphere is in golfing these characters makes it feel that the colours are pushing them to commit acts of lust in different ways How the clothing helps the theme of lust as shown in figure 3.
Yet there is one other that sex comes into this film as a theme and that is by the characters clothing, As seen in the film the closing of the female characters are strangely designed it is as if the audience is looking at fetish clothing that most others would get aroused however the men they seem to be in suit although the colours change from one room to another, the only sexiness comes from female clothing as shown in figure 4 and 5. This gives an understanding to audiences of how far sex is a theme that plays out through the film, because of the weird choices of this clothing there is this big idea of lost it's going to be betrayed in the film, in this case, it helps for Georgina is always wearing something seductive and fetish looking making it easier for her to get Michael into being with her in a sexual manner.
What compliments the film's theme of lust and appetite is the thematic feel when watching it, for it feels as if looking at a play in a theatre set up to be dramatic if we move it makes most like other theatre productions e.g. war horse and Les Miserable. Also, the symbolism of a painting in the main eating whole and how Albert and his goonies are sitting just like them, however, their behaviour is completely opposite (figures 6 &7) “thematic poke by the filmmaker. Albert spews his cockney variety of verbal bile at a large rectangular table that allows for Greenaway's formal tableaux compositions to blossom. Challenging thematic ideas come in spades.” (Smithey, 2011). In a way, what this is supposed to be symbolising how Albert should be behaving in this restaurant completely ignores it because he is the owner and she should do whatever he wants with this good character development Forum brings the subject of abuse and how dramatically can be to somebody, bringing this thematic element into the film to show the heart-breaking and lustful ways of Georgina and giving her reason why did I get Albert in the first place.
So as demonstrated in this review Greenaway has demonstrated his vision of lust and appetite through character development, clothing and colour choices and finally thematical set design. The audience can immediately connect to what he was trying to show as one reviewer states that “Semioticians have interpreted the film as an allegory that condemns contemporary consumerism, cynicism, and greed, and vulgar taste.” (Levy, 2011) He makes a good point of what the film is a symbolism of and what themes it is trying to achieve, Greenaway obviously knew what he was trying to do with this film and that is why that this film is considered a great intake of what lust and appetite are or could be.
- Ebert, R. (1999) THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE, AND HER LOVER. Available at: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-cook-the-thief-his-wife-and-her-lover-1999 (Accessed: 16 December 2016).
- Levy, E. (2011) Cook, the thief, the wife, and her lover, the (1989). Available at: http://emanuellevy.com/review/cook-the-thief-the-wife-and-her-lover-the-1989/ (Accessed: 16 December 2016).
- Smithey, C. (2011) Capsules: The cook, the thief, his wife, and her lover - classic film pick. Available at: http://www.colesmithey.com/capsules/2011/08/the-cook-the-thief-his-wife-and-her-lover.html (Accessed: 16 December 2016).
- peter (no date) The cook the thief his wife & her lover. Available at: http://grindelhof.egloos.com/928676 (Accessed: 16 December 2016). Figure 1
- Miramax (2016) The cook, the thief, his wife & her lover - official site. Available at: http://www.miramax.com/movie/the-cook-the-thief-his-wife-her-lover/ (Accessed: 16 December 2016). Figure 2
- Madson, A. (1966) Alex Kingston ♡. Available at: https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/174373816795097773/ (Accessed: 16 December 2016). Figures 3 and 4
- de Cinema, C. and profile, V. my complete (2011) THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE AND HER LOVER (1989) - Peter Greenaway. Available at: http://cashiersdecinema.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/cook-thief-his-wife-and-her-lover-1989.html (Accessed: 16 December 2016). Figure 5
- Mahiques, M.B. (2013) Food, art and architecture. Available at: https://mbmahiquesarch.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/food-art-and-architecture/ (Accessed: 16 December 2016). Figure 6
- Editors, W. (2015) Weekend words: Police. Available at: http://hyperallergic.com/173550/weekend-words-police/ (Accessed: 16 December 2016). Figure 7