The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover (1989)
Director: Peter Greenaway
Stars: Alan Howard, Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren, Tim Roth
Peter Greenaway is a singular filmmaker. Like Wes Anderson, his shots are composed in a way that's immediately recognizable. Watch one of his films and it should come as no surprise that he was a painter first. A true aesthete, his films are full of references to classic literature, theater, operaâ€”name something highbrow, and he folds it into his features. What makes The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover such a perfect entry point into Greenaway's rarefied world is the film's obsession with shit, rot, and the most corporeal aspects of sex.
The story is stylized and removed from reality to the point of allegory. A gangster (Michael Gambon) takes over a restaurant. His wife, Georgina Spica, takes a lover (Alan Howard). From there, the movie becomes a visceral examination of food become feces, passion become penetration, and flesh become meat. Watch it for the cannibalism, or the shots at Margaret Thatcher. Or both. After all, excess is important.