May 19, 2009
The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, Her Lover, Their Film and My Nightmare
Years ago, when I wasn't used to this class of cinema, I experienced 'Pink Floyd: the Wall' in the TV room of my hostel. A group of seniors had brought the DVD and I fail to reason how I could survive that visual exercise. Those were the days when I was not an avid cine buff and didn't even know that things that can be disgusting for us is acclaimed world over as art. And I still remember that nauseated feeling I had had watching the man licking his fingers straight from the shitpot.
As I discovered the beautiful, varied colours of world cinema, from all ages and across all continents, I got used to stuff which I had never imagined I would see on screen, or otherwise. After the inevitable 'Eraserhead', things became easier still. Tarantino's 'Grindhouse' followed. I grew comfortable watching transvestites acting strange (Polanski's 'The Tenant'), men making love to men (Wong Kar Wai's 'Happy Together'), old men out there to teach the world with some brutal 'games' (the 'Saw' series), someone eating a live octopus ('Old Boy'), twelve-year olds sucking human blood ('Let the Right One In'), and outrageous, psychopathic young adults with a terrible sense of humour ('A Clockwork Orange'). I remember when I narrated some scenes from 'Erasehead' to my mother, she was offended and blamed 'such' movies to have 'freaked' my mind. I can't even imagine what her reaction will be when she finds out these are the films I watch. (Although these are not the only movies I watch and the only reason of watching these is that I try to watch all kinds of films.)
But still. Last night I was shocked beyond anything. I always knew it was among the most controversial movies. I also remembered that the movie shows the cooking of a human body, in all its entirety. And yet, the experience it was! It just kept building up, till that final moment when our Mr Thief takes a bite of Mr Lover's body, a delicacy served to him by his Wife and cooked, obviously, by the Cook, a passionate French artist.
It was beautiful. The entire film. Very well shot. The colour scheme was a treat in itself. And I was amazed at how the director could manage this balance between a disgusting, disturbing content in this beautifully designed and packaged bottle. But I should admit that I had to go through what they say on the net about this film. I tried my best to understand why this film is celebrated. And I should admit even more honestly that I could not find a reason strong enough, apart from the shock value.
I do not know whether I am going to consider this movie among the good ones I have seen in my life, most probably not. But when they talk about those must-watch-before-you-die list of movies, I am sure this English film will find its way.
P.S. Statutory Warning: If you decide upon watching it, do not plan to eat during or around your movie experience.