Directed by Peter Greenaway and with a truly excellent British cast (Michael Gambon, Tim Roth, Helen Mirren), The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover was released in 1990 to great acclaim and controversy. Helen Mirren plays the glamorous, but neglected Georgina Spica who is married to a notorious and vulgar restaurant owner (Albert Spica – Michael Gambon). The story is intense with Georgina having an affair with a customer of the restaurant ( Michael – played by Alan Howard) right under the nose of her violent and short tempered husband. This passionate intensity is also expressed through the glamorous and almost regal costume design presented in the movie.
Greenaway was inspired by Baroque painting and had a grand artistic vision with The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover. To realise the vision he had to rely on the beauty and style of Mirren and also the artistic eye of the fashion designer Jean Paul Gautier. The talented cast, auteur director and fantastic costume designs ensures The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover is an interesting movie to investigate, but it is the beauty and style of Mirren that makes the movie so intriguing and the character of Georgina so iconic. Mirren’s role is to look glamorous and she does this through the extravagant costumes that present feathered head wear, luxurious dresses and dark and proactive lingerie.
She is the antagonist to her husband and she expresses this through style and grace and showing her freedom through her clothing. This is despite her domineering husband desperately trying to control her. Georgina wants to be break away from Albert and this is the catalyst of her affair. However her unabashed and bold style makes Georgina desirable and in control of the situation regardless of what her husband may think.