Dirty Pretty Things (film)

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Dirty Pretty Things
Dirty pretty things2.jpg
Promotional film poster
Directed byStephen Frears
Produced byRobert Jones
Tracey Seaward
Written bySteven Knight
StarringAudrey Tautou
Chiwetel Ejiofor
Sergi López
Sophie Okonedo
Music byNathan Larson
CinematographyChris Menges
Editing byMick Audsley
StudioBBC Films
Celador Films
Distributed byBuena Vista International
Release dates
  • 13 December 2002 (2002-12-13)
Running time97 minutes[1]
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Somali
Spanish
French
Budget$10 million[2]
Box office$13,904,766[3]
 
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Dirty Pretty Things
Dirty pretty things2.jpg
Promotional film poster
Directed byStephen Frears
Produced byRobert Jones
Tracey Seaward
Written bySteven Knight
StarringAudrey Tautou
Chiwetel Ejiofor
Sergi López
Sophie Okonedo
Music byNathan Larson
CinematographyChris Menges
Editing byMick Audsley
StudioBBC Films
Celador Films
Distributed byBuena Vista International
Release dates
  • 13 December 2002 (2002-12-13)
Running time97 minutes[1]
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Somali
Spanish
French
Budget$10 million[2]
Box office$13,904,766[3]

Dirty Pretty Things is a 2002 British thriller film directed by Stephen Frears and written by Steven Knight, a drama about two illegal immigrants in London. It was produced by BBC Films and Celador Films.

The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and won a British Independent Film Award for "Best Independent British Film" in 2003. For his performance as Okwe, Chiwetel Ejiofor won the 2003 British Independent Film Award for best actor.

Plot[edit]

Okwe, an illegal immigrant to the United Kingdom, is an African man who drives a cab in London during the day and works at the front desk of a hotel at night (this hotel is staffed with quite a few immigrants, both legal and illegal). Okwe keeps himself awake by chewing khat, a herbal stimulant. A doctor in his home country, he was forced to flee, following an incident where to stay would have likely cost him his life. In London, he is pressed into giving medical treatment to other poor immigrants, including fellow cab drivers with venereal diseases. Okwe's friend Guo Yi, an employee at a hospital mortuary, provides him with antibiotics under the table.

A prostitute known as Juliette, who acts like an unofficial member of the staff, tells Okwe to check a room in which she was staying, and he finds the toilet overflowing. He fishes out the blockage and finds a human heart. The manager of the hotel, Juan, runs an illegal operation at the hotel wherein immigrants swap kidneys for forged passports. After learning of Okwe's past as a doctor, Juan pressures him to join his operation as a surgeon, but Okwe refuses.

Senay is a Turkish Muslim who also works at the hotel as a cleaner. She has a visa to stay in the UK providing she doesn't work, so the hotel is a perfect cover, as she is not named on its books. She also gives Okwe a place to stay—he sleeps on her sofa provided she is out when he is asleep as her morals forbid a strange man being in any intimate situation with her.

Following a visit from the Immigration service, Okwe has to leave as she is frightened they will check her home again and find him. The officials spot a book of matches from the hotel and decide to visit there one night before Senay arrives for her early morning shift. Okwe has the doorman intercept Senay before she gets to work and the officials don't catch her, but it means that she has to find a new job. She begins working in a sweatshop making clothes, but the officials raid there too, with the entire staff fleeing to the roof while the manager gets rid of the immigration dept. Following this, the manager forces Senay to perform oral sex on him in exchange for her keeping her job and him not informing the border agency of her illegal working. After a couple of times, she refuses to cooperate and bites him before fleeing with an expensive coat and some dresses.

Okwe finds her a place to stay—the hospital mortuary—but Senay panics and asks him to help her run away to America by selling the stolen clothes and acting as a surgeon in Juan's organ business. Okwe refuses.

In desperation, Senay then turns to Juan and agrees to exchange a kidney for a passport. As a "deal maker", Juan takes her virginity as well, and later Juliette provides her with the morning-after pill. After learning of Senay's plan, Okwe tells Juan that he will perform the operation to ensure her safety, but only if Juan provides them both with passports under different names. However, after Juan delivers the passports, Okwe and Senay drug him instead, surgically remove his kidney and sell it to Juan's contact.

The film ends with Senay and Okwe at Stansted Airport, where Okwe must use his new identity to return to his young daughter, Valerie, in Nigeria (which he had fled after being wrongly accused of his wife's murder) while Senay uses hers to follow her dream to start a new life in New York City. Before they part, however, she gives him her cousin's address in New York. In the closing scene, they mouth "I love you" to each other.

Cast[edit]

Reception[edit]

Dirty Pretty Things received generally positive reviews, currently holding a 78/100 rating on Metacritic.[4] It holds a 94% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 138 reviews. The critical consensus states that it is "An illuminating and nuanced film about the exploitation of illegal immigrants." [5]

References[edit]

External links[edit]