The reason I'm not giving it 5 stars is pure subjectivity, I was simply terrified by Michael Gambon's portrayal and I found his character grotesque. I would have never believed I was going to find a character more terrifying than Donald Sutherland's Attila in Bertolucci's 1900. Well, it's been 5 years since then and I can say Gambon's surpasses him just because of the repetitive cruelty Greenaway burdens us with.
In most other gangster films, mafia bosses are made to be badass. Even in the case of an antagonist. However, with Greenaway's film, Albert, the mafia boss commits the same acts of violence and brutality that other gangsters do, the difference is that it makes him look weak.
I suspect this is Greenaways only great film. And, boy, is it great. Alan Howard in one of his rare film performances, one of the great stage actors. I love the juxtaposition of the symetrical nature of the style and the barbaric nature of the characters. The characters envelop themselves in grandure but is at their core only children, longing for sex and violence.
The cinematography and set design are really stunning, quite reminiscent of Dario Argento's 'Suspiria'. Story-wise I have never seen anything quite like it, I like the idea of it predominantly set in once location and the characters were good but it just seemed to drag for me and I wasn't really invested. But it is worth a watch for the visuals.
Unforgivingly twisted and masterfully directed. Amongst the incredible performances from Helen Mirren and Michael Gambon, there is a refined cinematographic style and incredible imagery through use of color and character choreography. The extended use of wide shots really allows the audience to be the editor of the film, as there's so much going on at all times. There's a surrealism about the whole thing. Beautiful.