Writer/Director: Peter Greenaway
Running time: 124 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18
UK Release date: 13th October 1989
Watched on Sky+ Sunday 17th March 2013.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I have to admit I knew very little about this film before viewing it. I had a vague recollection of it causing a bit of a stir amongst the critics on release, but other than that I just thought it had a pretty cool title. I guess I was expecting a bit of a period piece, maybe set in the 1700’s or something; I couldn’t have been more wrong! Although very theatrical in presentation, which I liked very much, it’s very contemporary. Here’s a very brief summary before I give you my thoughts.
All of the action centres around a restaurant run by head chef, Richard Borst (Richard Bohringer). The owner, a bawdy ignorant man is the thief, Albert Spica (Michael Gambon), who dines there every night with his wife, Georgina (Helen Mirren) and his regular crew of henchmen. Now Georgina, who is very badly treated by Albert, has taken a lover, another diner at the restaurant, Michael (Alan Howard). They sneak liaison’s between courses and are aided in this by the chef, but it’s only a matter of time before Albert finds them out at which point things become very interesting indeed… I’ll leave it there as revenge is a dish best served cold.
I love the visual style of this film; it’s very theatrical but with huge backdrops; some of the scenes in the restaurant almost look like they’re filmed in an aircraft hanger. The use of colour is quite brilliant, even down to the actor’s costume changing colour as they move from room to room. I thought the music fitted the piece quite brilliantly too (aside from the operatic stuff – those that have seen it will know what I’m referring to). All the performances were excellent; in particular Helen Mirren and Michael Gambon; they both really shone in this one! It’s certainly one I’ll be seeing again sometime and one I heartily recommend although some may find certain scenes distasteful (definitely not for the youngsters!).
SteelMonster’s verdict: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
My score: 8.9/10.
IMDb Score: 7.4/10 (based on 18,446 votes when this review was written).
MetaScore: No data: (Based on 0 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 72/100 (based on 20,454 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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Albert: What you've got to realize is that the clever cook puts unlikely things together, like duck and orange, like pineapple and ham. It's called 'artistry'. You know, I am an artist the way I combine my business and my pleasure: Money's my business, eating's my pleasure and Georgie's my pleasure, too, though in a more private kind of way than stuffing the mouth and feeding the sewers, though the pleasures are related because the naughty bits and the dirty bits are so close together that it just goes to show how eating and sex are related. Georgie's naughty bits are nicely related, aren't they, Georgie?
Georgina: Yes! He's a man. He's Jewish and he's from Ethiopia!
Georgina: His mother is a Roman Catholic, he's been imprisoned in South Africa, he's as black as the ace of spades and he probably drinks his own pee!
Georgina: Bon appétit. It's French...