THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE AND HER LOVER
At Le Hollandais gourmet restaurant, every night is filled with opulence, decadence, and gluttony. Not too mention, bad form and plenty of sex among the food items. But when the cook, a thief, his wife and her lover all come together they unleash a shocking torrent of sex, food, murder and revenge. When it comes to an opening scene, you'll find few films to match this one. Michael Gambon opens the film smearing dog excrement all over a naked man who is simultaneously being beaten by his henchmen and further humiliated by Gambon's slurs and jabs. To add insult to injury, Gambon empties his bladder on the gentleman after he's finished his bout of berating and smearing. For pure shock value, I can't think of a better opening scene. This is an incredibly rich and sumptuous film. The color schemes literally jump out of the set and land in your lap. They are tremendously well detailed and brilliantly presented. There has long been an association between eating and sex or rather, food and sex and this film brings them together in an extremely erotic presentation that has few if any equals. Helen Mirren is delicious in her portrayal of the wife of the thief and as usual creates an atmosphere of tremendous enjoyment in her portrayal. Michael Gambon (Sleepy Hollow & The Insider) is equally enjoyable. His Cockney accent may have been a bit thick at times but on the whole a great performance. It's no wonder this film is on so many top ten lists!
The only disappointment in the visual and audio departments come from a poorly rendered DD2.0 track that suffers from a great deal of depression and muddying. As previously mentioned, the Cockney accents got a bit on the thick side but were for the most part understandable. I have to say though that there where moments when I had no idea what the heck was being said. Subtitles would have been helpful however, like a great many discs nowadays, they were not included. Visually, the film is incredibly beautiful. Peter Greenway's use of color is one of the most intense and stunning I have seen in some time. The blacks are very deep and the reds and greens are equally deep and rich. There were one or two moments of shimmering and pixellation in the darker scenes but on the whole the video was a very well detailed widescreen transfer.
The only extras on the disc are two trailers for the feature. I don't usually mention menus unless they are outstanding. While those featured on this disc are far from outstanding, they were decent enough to warrant a nod of special mention.
I had great fear and trepidation in preparing this film in that I had heard very bad reports about the movie. I am glad to say that they were all unfounded with one exception. In the kitchen scenes, there is a recurrent musical theme and singer akin to the "In the Year 2000" screeching from the Conan O'Brien show. His/her singing wore and grated on my nerves like no other! The movie is a myriad of experiences all wrapped up into one. And each one is just as fulfilling as the next. The experience is like being wrapped up in a wonderfully exotic textured novel that carries you from one outlandish moment to the next. Anchor Bay is not known for it's attention to detail but on this entry, they did a fairly good job. Now if we can just get them to eek out some extras!