Whew, what a film. The Cook the Thief His Wife & Her Lover is quite a shocker, brilliant in its visual presentation and orchestral soundtrack, yet sickening in the same way.
The film concerns the gangster (or thief as suggested in the title) of Albert Spica, a brute of a man whose wife (played by Helen Mirren) begins to delve into a sexual love affair. What presides is shocking brutality, humiliation, sex and even cannibalism, all treated in a very confrontational manner not for the faint hearted - I was pretty sickened by some of the scenes I witnessed. The film itself is dominated by Albert Spica, who speaks almost constantly throughout the whole film. I have to say, Michael Gambon plays a flawless performance in capturing a most brutal and detestable man in every level.
An small taste of Albert's brutality, lashing out with a fork only to afterwards sit and simply resume eating.
Despite this, the film does a wonderful job in immersing one into the world and atmosphere of the film with only a few set locations, with orchestral cues and slow yet deliberate panning of the camera. The use of colour is particularly captivating with the dominant red restaurant and eerie green of the kitchen, where the clothes worn by the characters are constantly changing colour for a subtle yet effective theatrical display.
The painting 'Banquet of the Officers of the St George Civic Guard' by Dutch painter Frans Hals found in the background of the restaurant, contributes to the sense of gluttonous food and wealth that Albert exhibits. In one way, there seem to stare towards the scene almost in disgust.
Overall, there is some brutal and sickening scenes to be had in this film, but if you can get over this fact, you will be treated to some great theatrical work with soaring orchestral tracks and great aesthetic set designs with the particular use of lighting and colour.