Human beings are not for eating. Of course, there are some exceptions which could cause you to re-think this basic tenet. Peter Greenaway's film begins with a similar image to the one that concludes The Great Feast, which was made 15 years previously. Then the curtain rises. This is a different kind of feast. Greenaway (who studied painting) directs this gastro-horror with graphic excess and mathematical precision throughout. It is an accursedly and incomprehensibly picturesque film. In the background, we can see references to the paintings of Frans Hal, with the dishes referencing the still lives of the Dutch painters, as objects of art and as part of the set. Not to mention the clothes which Jean-Paul Gaultier designed for the film. (For the encore: Michael Nyman's superb score.) And in the foreground of this already embarassingly rich tapestry is the maffioso Mr Spica, who revels in his power. Turning everything and everyone to dust. In his world, the entrance and exit to the digestive system are one and the same. Behind this theatrical performance lies the kitchen, the backstage area, where, with crackling and steaming and a whirl of duck feathers, gastronomic creations are born - for the unworthy host.
The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover could be interpreted as a reflection on ethics and aesthetics. Though it is far more affecting than that. Because, amidst the disgusting bodily functions, somehow a sensitive human story still emerges, which turns into a genuine drama. And then, at the end, the curtain closes. Beautiful and repulsive. Though let us not be fooled by the beauty of the feasts! This film is not about the power of flavours, but rather the flavour of power.
Presented by: Müpa Budapest
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