The cook, the thief, his wife and his lover | erotic movies

Valérie Tasso | enero 30, 2022
Category: Erotic Movies

Antonin Artaud resolves and closes metaphysics, that pressing question about everything that implies giving oneself to be, in a forceful way. in your text To end the judgment of God (“To End God’s Judgment”) he writes: Where it smells like shit / it smells like shit (“There where it smells like shit / smells like being”). Do you want to know if something exists, is given to being? You just have to bring your nose closer.

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If at any time it smells like shit there is an entity that exists; a human, for example. Shit is the foundation, the necessary condition; that which sustains us and that, because it does not have a rational order or make difference and individuation possible, surpasses us, is uninhabitable by us, destroys us, swallows us, makes us shit.

Shit is typical of what as soon as it arrives already begins to wither, the same as everything that is outdated, everything that is given to be and, as such, is ephemeral. And as the poet said; ours is a passing, a deterioration, a dissolving or, to put it crudely like Artaud: a rotting.

That is our origin and our destiny. Mud that goes to mud. And we don’t like it at all. Does that mean it’s all shit? No, far from it, because “it is” and “we are”, as we announced at the beginning, what resists shit, and the more human we are, the closer we get to the transcendent and the heroic, the more we live our ephemeral existence as if we were an immortal god.

Beauty, for example, is beautiful because being and knowing that it is ephemeral, it rises, it magnifies itself as if it were not. Because she knows from shit to contain shit, to turn it into her immaculate opposite. It’s all a holding game. Our success and our dignity is knowing how to be a dam for the shit that perpetually seduces us and claims us, for the one that when our strength weakens will definitely end up engulfing us.


All that Peter Greenaway knows. As he knows that the noun “shit” has multiple meanings, many ways of showing up in his stinky social and individual reality. Corruption as rot, violence, inequality, injustice, greed, hypocrisy and thousands of other manifestations. Shit, not only as a foundation, but as a manifestation, surrounds us and our only real virtue is knowing how to make an orchid emerge from the dunghill that covers vision and smell, without forgetting about the dunghill with tall tales. And that, Greenaway, the most polyhedral and Renaissance artist of our time, does it like no one else.

The story that tells us The cook, the thief, his wife and his lover, from 1989, is about that; of the degradation, of the rot, of the shit and of the ephemerally great and beautiful that can come out, even for an instant, of it. A raw and exquisitely crafted analysis of what terrifies us most.

«There are two issues that really matter to man; one is sex and the other is death, and that is precisely what my films are about », he declares.


The story it tells us is wrapped in four main characters.

The cook (played by Richard Bohringer), a virtuoso in the preparation of delicacies, a specialist in the conversion of mud into fine porcelain.

His partner, the thief (Michael Gambon), who represents the same shit, the prototype of the subject emanating, among other sources, from neoliberalism that in the years in which the film was made begins to emerge in the fangs (or in the anus) of the thatcherismo British. He is, like shit itself, an inducer of excess, of that jouissance, as psychoanalysts would say, that always magnifies shit itself in its rush towards shit, the one who makes it collective, the one who socializes it (while privatizing its disgusting benefits), the one that is only governed in its shit by the “I want more and I want it now, whoever has to bust blows up”. Coarse, sadistic, petty, stupid, located flush with shit, without any ability to retain it, the thief only knows how to show a quantitative magnitude of what he really is: an excess of diarrhea without any possibility of measurement.

There is also the thief’s wife (Helen Mirren), who is the orchid that continually tries to be crushed by its owner, to be submerged in the mud.

And finally, there is Mirren’s lover (Alan Howard), a guy somehow related to books, routine, content, rational, who comes to the restaurant every night and reads, so he would be a bit of the antimatter of the book. thief, but also the image of the self-absorbed and apathetic intellectual. The one who manages to attract the woman and win the role of the lover in this cinematic theatrical piece.

The four of them coincide in the “Paradiso” restaurant, a beautiful space located in the middle of nowhere and misery, one day a week, ten times, ten meals, ten menus, together with the boy who sings with the voice of a castrati in the kitchen. and the criminals who make up the thief’s entourage and who show in many different ways the multiple manifestations and concretions of rot.



With this, Greenaway manages to structure two classic, infallible arguments to explain what we are. Infidelity; Shakespeare put it this way: “The whole plot (of the Trojan War) boils down to a whore and a bastard.” And revenge; what he does, for example, of Hamlet, Hamlet, and already in Shakespeare and, without wanting to gut the work, the cannibalistic refinement in revenge that makes Titus Andronicus who he is.

From there and with fabulous actors, convinced of what they do and why they do it, eschatology and beauty go hand in hand; the vomit and the kiss, the blood and the word, the most sordid and the most repugnant clash with the most captivatingly beautiful. Everything, bodies, flesh, feelings are naked, raw, brutalized to suddenly transform into the sophisticated elaboration that gives the most exquisite culture (it is enough to see the metamorphosed dynamic costumes of Jean-Paul Gaultier in the body, also pure flesh, of Helen Mirren). never them flowers of Berlusconi or the Partygate of Boris Johnson were better understood. Blind excess (the one that guides the elites and the scriptwriters of the reality of our time) has never been seen so clearly, never has that written on the pediment of the Oracle of Delphi made more sense: «Nothing in excess».

Meanwhile, sex is tender, hounded by greedy, stupid, spiteful shit and literally eaten by it. The colors (Greenaway’s deep knowledge of painting is evident) make up lines of space/idea/emotion in such a way that immersing oneself in the film is bathing in those waters in which nothing is the same afterwards, since attending this experience, Greenaway undoubtedly has something not suitable for all sensitivities, but for those who can stand it, it comes gratified (or not) by the baptismal, by the possibility of a new self-giving, of understanding the world and understanding oneself in a different way. different way, with a different meaning.

The cannibalism of a culture

At the end, just before the curtain falls, only one word remains: “Cannibal.” The cannibalism of a culture, of a civilization, ours, which has once again eaten its fellow men not because of hunger, but because of the systemic imbecility that places those who can pay the dinner bill at the top. The shit that makes the shit end, after a few flashes of beauty, turning it all into her. If Artaud devised the “Theatre of cruelty”, Greenaway has been able to make theater of cruelty, but without seasoning it with even a hint of a story.

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The cook, the thief, his wife and his lover | erotic movies

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