The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover

Der Koch, der Dieb, seine Frau und ihr Liebhaber
Gang boss Albert Spica dines nightly at the gourmet restaurant he owns, “Le Hollandais”. Sitting with his cronies, he is loud and unpleasant as he denigrates the staff and the French chef. While Albert rants on, his wife Georgina secretly begins an affair with one of the restaurant’s regulars and, after a series of short sexual encounters, falls truly in love with him. When Albert finds out about the surreptitious rendezvous in the ladies’ loo, the restaurant kitchen, or the pantry, he is consumed with an insatiable thirst for revenge … Sex, fine dining, and violence – Peter Greenaway directed a painterly studio production in the style of an Elizabethan-Jacobean tragedy of vengeance. The film gave accomplished Shakespearian actor Helen Mirren a stage for perhaps the riskiest performance of her career – one she mastered with bravura. The moving high point of this thespian tour de force is Mirren’s monologue – stripped of all of star designer Jean-Paul Gaultier’s fashion armour, Georgina announces her transformation from an oft-abused, seemingly vulnerable woman to a fearless heroine and victress with the words, “eat, Albert”.
by Peter Greenaway
with Richard Bohringer, Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren, Alan Howard, Tim Roth, Ciarán Hinds, Gary Olsen, Ewan Stewart, Ian Dury
United Kingdom / France / Netherlands 1989 English 124’ Colour Rating R18


  • Richard Bohringer
  • Michael Gambon
  • Helen Mirren
  • Alan Howard
  • Tim Roth
  • Ciarán Hinds
  • Gary Olsen
  • Ewan Stewart
  • Ian Dury


Written and Directed by Peter Greenaway
Cinematography Sacha Vierny
Editing John Wilson
Music Michael Nyman
Sound Garth Marshall
Art Director Ben van Os, Jan Roelfs
Costumes Jean-Paul Gaultier
Make-Up Sara Meerman
Producer Kees Kasander

Produced by

Allarts Enterprises/Erato Films/Elsevier-Vendex Film Beheer

Additional information

DCP: Park Circus, Glasgow

Peter Greenaway

Born in Newport, Wales in 1942. On graduating he worked as a fine artist and editor at the British government's Central Office of Information. He directed numerous short films and documentaries which came to international attention. In his work he has often collaborated with composers such as Philip Glass, John Cage and Michael Nyman. His feature debut The Draughtman's Contract signaled his international breakthrough as a director. Alongside his films, he has also created numerous installations and multimedia projects.

Filmography (selection)

1967 5 Postcards from Capital Cities 1973 H Is for House 1975 Water Wrackets 1978 1 - 100 1980 The Falls 1982 The Draughtsman's Contract (Der Kontrakt des Zeichners) 1985 A Zed & Two Noughts (Ein Z & zwei Nullen) 1987 The Belly of an Architect (Der Bauch des Architekten) 1988 Drowning by Numbers 1989 The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (Der Koch, der Dieb, seine Frau und ihr Liebhaber) 1991 Prospero's Books (Prosperos Bücher) 1993 The Baby of Mâcon (Das Wunder von Mâcon) 1996 The Pillow Book (Die Bettlektüre) 1999 8 ½ Women 2003 The Tulse Luper Suitcases, Part 1: The Moab Story 2004 The Tulse Luper Suitcases, Part 2: Vaux to the Sea · The Tulse Luper Suitcases, Part 3: From Sark to the Finish 2007 Nightwatching 2008 Rembrandt's J'Accuse 2012 Goltzius and the Pelican Company 2015 Eisenstein in Guanajuato

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2020