Drowning by Numbers (1988)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Black Comedy, Ensemble Film  |   Run Time - 125 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , Netherlands   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Iconoclast Peter Greenaway achieved his biggest crossover success at the time with this tidy, baroque rumination on marriage, deceit, and sisterhood. The result is something of a primer for anyone unfamiliar with Greenaway's work: there is the director's obsession with forms, patterns, and numbers; his fascination with women and sexuality; and his strong taste for all things gruesome, scatological, and macabre, which he insists lurk beneath the veneer of polite Western society. As the three identically named women at the center of the film unapologetically kill their male partners, the film acquires a deadpan, absurdist glee which had been in short supply in Greenaway's previous efforts, and which he would exploit in his next feature, the breakthrough The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover. Greenaway's penchant for subversive casting results in a welcome comic turn from the legendary Joan Plowright, whose Hollywood career achieved something of a resurgence in the years that followed.