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IndieWire and FilmStruck’s ‘Movies That Inspire Me’: Matt Ross on the Resilience of ‘The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover’

The "Captain Fantastic" director explains why Peter Greenaway's unrelenting 1989 classic can teach so much about honesty, empathy and space.

When it premiered in 1989, Peter Greenaway’s “The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover” stunned audiences with its unflinching portraits of abuse and sexuality. It’s as dark as comedy can get, but it remains in the collective film consciousness through the generation of filmmakers that Greenaway influenced.

READ MORE: Watch: ‘Jackie’ Director Pablo Larraín Discusses ‘Movies That Inspire Me’ in New IndieWire Video Series Presented by FilmStruck

One of them is Matt Ross, director of “Captain Fantastic,” who singled out film’s technical and storytelling mastery. In the latest of our “Movies That Inspire Me” series, presented in partnership with FilmStruck, Ross explains how the film’s single-set construct helps grip the audience from the story’s outset.

Ross also praised Gambon and Mirren’s central performances. Amidst the ugliness, Ross argues that Gambon’s ability to elicit a strange sense of empathy and Mirren’s strength in the face of her character’s abuse help keep this film relevant almost 30 years after its release.

Both this and another classic Mirren performance, from John MacKenzie’s “The Long Good Friday,” are currently available to stream on Filmstruck.

“Movies That Inspire Me,” which features conversations with Sundance Film Festival directors about their favorite FilmStruck titles from the Turner Classic Movies and Criterion Collection, will continue regularly throughout the month of December here on IndieWire.

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