From Stephen Frears, the Oscar(R)-nominated director of THE GRIFTERS (Best Director, 1990) and DANGEROUS LIAISONS, DIRTY PRETTY THINGS stars Audrey Tautou (AMÉLIE) in a harrowing tale of struggle and survival for two immig... more »rants who learn that everything is for sale in London's secret underworld! Part of an invisible working class, Nigerian exile Okwe (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Turkish chambermaid Senay (Tautou) toil at a west London hotel that is full of illegal activity. Then late one night Okwe makes a shocking discovery, which creates an impossible dilemma and tests the limits of all they know! Honored with numerous European film awards and nominations -- including wins at the London Critics Circle Film Awards and the Venice Film Festival -- you'll find this gritty urban thriller to be thoroughly engrossing and impossible to forget!« less
"They're in the shadows, the people that no one sees. "Dirty Pretty Things" can be classified as many things -- horror, drama, thriller, social commentary or some combination of the above -- but in the end it is merely a wonderfully gritty, realistic film that will leave you thinking.Okwe (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a Nigerian immigrant in London, lives with (but is not involved with) prickly Turkish immigrant Senay (Audrey Tatou), both of whom struggle against immigrant officials -- and their own feelings. Okwe works by his own strong morals, hampered by a dark secret. But one day Okwe makes a grisly discovery in the hotel where he works -- a clog in a toilet that turns out to be a human heart. His boss Juan (Sergi Lopez) tells him to not say anything. Does Okwe obey him? Of course not. He digs deeper, and soon uncovers a sinister web that hits close to the heart: Desperate immigrants sell their organs in exchange for forged papers and passports. As the immigration officials start to close in on Okwe and Senay, they must figure out what to do about the organ smuggling ring.A lot of movie moralizing is contrived and poorly-scripted. But Stephen Frears manages to stick the moral dilemmas in the faces of the viewers and make them stick. Okwe's conflicted feelings when he discovers the organ trafficking are wonderful, especially as he himself is a doctor who could help people, but working for an evil man. Similarly we see Senay, a religious girl, in a slow, inexorable downward slide.We see many immigrants, all with different dreams, goals, and pasts. And Frears makes them all come alive. He shows London as a city with a dark underbelly, with plenty of sinister big buildings where immigrant workers struggle to remain anonymous. Most sinister of all: That people will sell their organs or their bodies in order to find a better life.Audrey Tatou shatters the public perception of her in "Dirty Pretty Things," shifting into the role of a trodden-on Turkish maid. She's absolutely masterful, fragile and sad. Chiwetel Ejiofor brings wonderful expressiveness and dignity to his role, but doesn't have quite the dimension of Lopez or Tatou. Sergi Lopez is one of the best screen villains in quite some time, absolutely making the screen sparkle. But you'll hate his guts. Also good is Sohie Okonedo as an upbeat hooker and Zlatko Buric as the likable doorman.Not for the faint of heart, "Dirty Pretty Things" left me staring at a semi-dark screen when the film had ended. Powerful, gritty, and stark. One of the must-sees of the year."
Tightly Structured Thriller With Something To Say
Ibochild | Los Angeles, CA USA | 11/28/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It isn't often that you see a well-crafted thriller with something on its mind, but "Dirty Pretty Things" is one of those films. It tells the story of Okwe (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a Nigerian living in London illegally. He works two jobs: one as a taxi driver and the other inside a second-rate hotel. This doesn't give him much time to do anything, but work. When it is time to rest, he has an unusual living arrangement with Senay (Audrey Tautou), a Turkish immigrant that also works at the hotel. They share the same flat, but never occupy it at the same time.One night, while Okwe is working at the hotel, he is asked to check on a room and discovers a human heart. When he tells his boss Sneaky Juan (Sergi López), he's told to keep quiet or he'll risk deportation. This causes Okwe to have a moral dilemma, which drives this fascinating story of the underside of London live. Without revealing too much of the plot, "Dirty Pretty Things" keeps raising the stakes and makes you really care about the plight of the main characters. Fans of the international hit "Amélie," might be a bit surprised by Ms. Tautou's performance as Senay. Some might find her work shocking, but it clearly indicates that Tautou is an actor unafraid of taking risks. She and Mr. Ejiofor are a pleasure to watch on screen together.Okwe is reminiscent of some of Sidney Poitier's early films. He's sensitive, noble and has strong moral convictions. That's something you don't see much in film today. Ejiofor's performance is all the more remarkable given the world in which his character lives in. Okwe is surrounded by morally bankrupt people that will do anything to become British citizens. He stands tall in the face of many temptations.While a fascinating and provocative film, "Dirty Pretty Things" may not be for everybody. However, if you're looking for an intelligent story with complex characters and don't mind venturing into a seedy world, this film is for you."
A thriller that's actually about something.
Benjamin | ATLANTA, Gabon | 09/30/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You can view director Stephen Frears' DIRTY PRETTY THINGS one of two ways, maybe even more than that.It allows viewers the chance to see a side of London that is never shown, an underground world of illegal immigrants trying to get by and gain legal citizenship while trying to evade authorities. It also shows viewers a rather creepy and twisted plot involving the black-market sale of human organs and how willing some people are to pursue their dreams. The film also gives Audrey Tautou her first English-speaking role and features her prominently in a rather odd, completely compelling love story.I was rather pleased with this movie, which though flawed is never boring. And the ending of it was particularly satisfying."
"WE ARE THE ONES YOU DONï¿½T SEE"
S. Calhoun | Chicago, IL United States | 08/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Okwe (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is an illegal immigrant living in London who is fleeing a secretive past in Nigeria. He is on the constant run from immigrant officials and must work two jobs just to keep his head above water. He befriends Senay (Audrey Tautou) while working at Hotel Baltic who is also an illegal immigrant from Turkey. One night Okwe finds a human heart in one of the hotel room?s toilet. Using his previous knowledge of medicine he begins to solve the case of the mysterious human heart. Along the way his moral and ethical values are constantly challenged as he is confronted with grave decisions. DIRTY PRETTY THINGS is an intriguing and smart crime thriller and love story all rolled into one. This film does an excellent job revealing the hidden population of illegal immigrants residing in London and all the turmoil and risk they encounter just to not be deported. The strong political and economic themes enrich the plot rather than distract the audience. In addition, the characters are real and the acting is superb. I highly recommend this film."
Atmospheric Thriller/Character Drama Hybrid.
mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 04/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Okwe (Chjwetel Ejiofor) is an illegal Nigerian immigrant in London, who drives a taxi by day and works as a hotel desk attendant at night. He rents a couch, on which he catches an occasional few minutes of sleep, in the apartment of Senay (Audrey Tautou), a young Turkish woman who works as a maid at the hotel. When tending to a backed up toilette at the hotel one night, Okwe makes a bizarre discovery: Clogging the commode is a healthy human heart, obviously adrift from its owner. And so Okwe begins to unravel the hidden activities behind the respectable facade of the Baltic Hotel."Dirty Pretty Things" is a hybrid atmospheric thriller and gritty drama, written by Steven Knight and directed by the brilliant Stephen Frears. The story takes place exclusively among normally "invisible" service workers: taxi drivers, maids, porters, and prostitutes. Telling a tale of people who go largely unnoticed, even as they perform tasks that make the city tick, gives the film a covert atmosphere that supports the seedy and suspenseful narrative. The film's performances are outstanding. Chjwetel Ejiofor commands attention and inspires empathy as Okwe, an ethical man seemingly living in an unethical and intractable world. Audrey Tautou is sympathetic as Senay, who tries to preserve something of her culture's values while living in London's underbelly and dreaming of someplace better. Benedict Wong gives an interesting turn as a resident physician at a local hospital and friend of Okwe's. The most impressive performance may come from Sergi Lopez, a Spanish actor who does not speak English, but turns in a powerhouse performance as Juan, the hotel's manager, in English, nevertheless. I have to attribute the decision to hire two actors who didn't at the time speak English -Tautou and Lopez- to play key English-speaking roles to Stephen Frears' eccentricity. But it works remarkably well. "Dirty Pretty Things" is billed as a thriller, and although the film is a drama about disillusionment more than anything else, it plays by the rules of a thriller. It stretches credibility. I wouldn't have trouble believing what goes on in that hotel if it were in a third world country,but I don't buy it in London. It's not realistic. "Dirty Pretty Things" gets away with this because it is so emotionally authentic. It's very effective as a character drama, and typically fantastic as a thriller. Writer Stephen Knight has imbued the film with enough comedy that the drama doesn't become oppressive, and it's a great credit to him that he was able to make us laugh, given the film's subject matter. This great script has a distinct subversive feel, and the film is filled with great character actors. "Dirty Pretty Things" is an odd, atmospheric, but enjoyable hybrid mystery, with the kind of character writing that big budget thrillers can only dream of.The DVD: The extras aren't thrilling. Bonus features include a "making of" documentary entitled "Behind the Scenes" and an audio commentary by director Stephen Frears. "Behind the Scenes" is short and says very little. The audio commentary is uneven. There are a few interesting tidbits amidst a generally humdrum narration about filming and locations. Captioning is available in English. Subtitles are available in French."