Features & News

Anti-Advent Calendar #3

Christmas. It’s a bit full on, isn’t it? The month’s just begun and we’ve already been bombarded with weeks of songs about drunk New Yorkers, adverts about sodding penguins and lists. Lists and lists and lists. So here at Impact Film & TV, we’re making our own list. Checking it thrice. On to day three…

The most widely seen film of legendary Brit director Peter Greenaway (this year’s winner of the Outstanding Contribution To Cinema BAFTA, just sayin’), 1989’s The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover is a Hieronymus Bosch of a film. A maelstrom of excess back in the decade when such films were referred to as “a criticism of Thatcherite government”, TCTTHWAHR is confined to and concerns the goings-on at Le Hollandais Restaurant, owned by nefarious local gangster Albert Spica (a thundering Michael Gambon, unrecognisable to those who just know him as the latter Dumbledore).

Tyrannically presiding over his court of cuisine, every night he subjects his patrons, fellow crooks and spiritually bruised yet physically stoic wife Georgina (a typically fantastic Helen Mirren) to a coruscating verbal torrent and oafish aggression. To the amusement of the equally victimised staff, Georgina begins and maintains an affair with the quiet, bookish gentleman who visits every night right under Albert’s nose. But it’s only a matter of time till her finds out…

The actors! The costumes! The sets! The relentlessly driving Nyman score! The sheer oppressive cruelty! At Christmastime one expects a feast, and The Cook serves up something unforgettable. To quote the tagline, bon appétit!

Tom Watchorn

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