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"Try the cock, Albert. It's a delicacy, and you know where it's been."—Georgina
Squick-laden, Nausea Fuel-laden off-beat 1989 British drama/romance/comedy/arthouse film full of Scenery Porn and gorgeous symbolism, directed by Peter Greenaway and starring Richard Bohringer, Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren and Alan Howard in the titular roles.
English mafia don Albert Spica is the owner of the high-class La Hollandais restaurant, of which Richard Borst is the head chef. Georgina is Albert's wife. Every night, Albert flies into rages and forces other patrons out of the restaurant, in addition to subjecting his enemies to sadistic tortures (such as rolling around in dog manure). This is to Georgina's chagrin. Georgina's eye eventually catches Michael, a shy bookshop owner who regularly dines at the restaurant. With the help of the restaurant staff, the two carry out a torrid affair, sneaking off to the kitchen or women's bathroom to have sex whenever they can. Unfortunately, Albert finds out, and goes to Michael's bookshop and interrogates him, force-feeding him pages of his book until he dies. When Georgina finds out, she, and all the other patrons whom Albert has brutalized, take revenge by having Richard cook Michael's body and serve it to Albert, forcing him to eat it at gunpoint before shooting him in the head. Lovely.
Notable for its sets; consisting solely of gray back-alley, green kitchen, red dining room, white women's bathroom and Richard's bookshop, in which the outfits of the characters change color to conform to; and for its NC-17 rating. Theories regarding the film's meaning are diverse; but the popular consensus seems to be that it is a metaphor for the oppression of the poor by the rich and by governments; with Richard representing the poor masses and Albert the oppressive upper class. More particularly, it is popularly regarded as criticism of the tax laws of Margaret Thatcher.
- And Your Little Dog, Too: Albert does this a few times. One of the more vile examples is when a business partner has an argument with him and he decides to stab his wife in the face with a fork.
- Aristocrats Are Evil
- Bittersweet Ending: Albert loses everything and the rest of the cast get together to humiliate and kill him. Meanwhile, Michael is dead and at least two of the characters are scarred for life.
- Break the Cutie: The Tenor Boy mentioned below and Georgina.
- Coitus Uninterruptus: Nothing short of the fear of death will stop Georgina and Richard from having sex.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Happens to Michael and the Tenor Boy.
- Crapsack World: Albert can publically brutilize people, including his own wife and customers at his restaurant, and there are no police officers to call, apparently. The closest thing to authority we see are health inspectors.
- Crazy Jealous Guy: Albert
- The Danza: The four title characters are named for the actors writer-director Peter Greenaway originally wanted to play them. Richard (The Cook) is for Richard Bohringer, the only one of Greenaway's original choices retained in the final film. The rest are aversions: Albert (The Thief) is named after Albert Finney, while Georgina (His Wife) is for Georgina Hale. Michael (The Lover) is named, interestingly enough, for Michael Gambon, whom Greenaway eventually re-cast as Albert.
- Dead Baby Comedy
- Do You Want to Copulate?: It doesn't even get that wordy as far as Michael and Georgina are concerned.
- Explicit Content
- Fan Disservice: Nekkid Helen Mirren = *drooooooool...*. Nekkid Helen Mirren covered in rotting cadaver = *errrgggg...*
- Force Feeding: Albert's favored method of torture, eventually turned back on him.
- "Glad to Be Alive" Sex: If you just avoided getting killed by Albert, you'd wanna celebrate as well.
- Good People Have Good Sex
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Albert.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Albert will be a humanitarian whether he wants to be or not!
- Instant Seduction: Ooohhhhh yeah.
- It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Heavily averted. The lovers don't seem to mind that at any moment, Albert could waltz in and find them. Even when he does find out and they are forced to flee, they keep it up.
- Kick the Dog: Albert pretty much does this for 2 hours straight. In fact, there might be a scene where he actually kicks a dog, come to think of it.
- He does run over one with his car after another blistering row with Georgina, and the body is shown in close up, although whether this was intentional or he just didn't pay attention to where he was going is uncertain.
- Large Ham: Albert.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Albert ends up eating more than his words.
- Law of Inverse Fertility: Georgina explains that she is unable to have children with the possible implication that she wants them.
- Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Happens in the ladies' restroom, a bookstore, an empty lot, and in the middle of the restaurant's kitchen while surrounded by staff.
- Male Frontal Nudity: Mostly Michael.
- Multi Character Title: Errr, yah.
- Naked People Trapped Outside: Or in a meat van anyway.
- Nouveau Riche: Albert is filthy rich but has all the class of a cockroach.
- Politically-Incorrect Villain: Albert's views are very... colorful.
- The Promise: Albert is forced to keep his promise which involved killing and eating Michael. He did intend for it to be a partial promise, though.
- Refuge in Audacity: The movie is actually surprisingly funny at times due to its over-the-top nature.
- Sex Equals Love: Possibly. The lovers don't say much to one another but they do have a lot of sex and love each other quite a bit.
- Sexy Discretion Shot: Averted hard. This movie is NC-17, afterall.
- Shower of Love: Doubles as a Shower of Angst
- Spiritual Sequel: Of a kind. Hellen Mirren plays an equally horrifying part in an equally horrifying 1990 film, The Comfort Of Strangers. The two films have rather similar atmospheres.
- Stocking Filler: Mirren.
- Your Cheating Heart: But you can't really blame Georgina.
- Would Hit a Girl: Albert
- Would Hurt a Child: Albert once again.