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The 100




Cook the Thief His Wife & Her Lover, The
(1989)
Reviewed by Brendan McBride
Rating: .5 Beans

his movie is sort of a thinking man's "Salo."

It was recently asked whether a movie involving excrement could be done in a tasteful manner. Well, there are a lot of people who'll tell you that this is the one that pulled it off. The mistake these people make, however, is thinking that you can dress up a movie with fancy costumes, a period plot, bizarre "art film" dialogue and somehow make a movie about cannibalism and forced ingestion of feces something other than a movie about cannibalism and forced ingestion of feces.

I have sat through some truly horrible movies and this remains the only movie that was so repulsive that I actually left the theatre. I originally saw it in a local "art house" theatre a few months after it came out on a reccomendation from a "friend." I tried watching it again on Sundance a couple years ago in college, thinking that I must be missing something, or that there was some clever metaphorical subtext that made it worth watching people forced to eat shit (and other people). After all, why do all the pretentious folks love this movie? Well there was a metaphorical subtex, once you can get over the aformentioned cannibalism and shit-eating that is. However, since this is BMN, I'll leave the discussion of just what that metaphor is to those more qualified to comment on the symbolic meaning of shit eating.

The story is thus: the film opens with the forced shit eating scene then we find out that the thief (Micheal Gambon), is a royal ass who doesn't know how to love his wife (Helen Mirren) who takes up with her lover (Richard Bohringer). The lover likes to read, so when the thief finds out about the affair he has the lover killed by force feeding him pages of a book using a sharp stick to ram them down his throat. Of course, we get to see all of this, too.

The wife then conspires with the cook (Alan Howard) to force feed the lovers body (slow roasted and basted) to the thief for revenge. Of course we also get the treat of watching the thief enjoy this bountiful feast.

The acting is actually quite good. The script and direction are typical bizarre "art house" fare but well executed and the costumes, sets and cinematography are all well-done. Nonetheless, this is still a movie about eating exrement and cannibalism, and considering its quality, it seems to prove that no, you cannot do a tasteful movie about shit.

I must admit that I haven't seen "Salo" or "Pink Flamingoes" (nor will I), so this movie remains the most disgusting that I have ever been subjected to, and, at that, it was quite by accident.






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