Okwe (Ejiofor) is a hard-working Nigerian who has jobs as a night desk clerk and cab driver in London. One night, Okwe finds a human heart while repairing a toilet and uncovers a darker side of the dirty things happening at the hotel. He boards informally with another immigrant, Senay (Tatou -- of Amalie fame), a Turkish Muslim who works days at the same hotel as a chambermaid. She finds herself in a precarious position with immigration officials when it is discovered she is allowing Okwe to stay with her. Both have to negotiate around the hotel manager, known as Senor Sneaky (Lopez), who not only watches the legitimate business concerns of the hotel, but also utilizes the hotel for his side businesses, which include prostitution.
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The review of this Movie prepared by ldpaulson
Dirty Pretty Things seems to refer to London itself, but there are people employed specifically to keep things looking pretty on the exterior. The film centers on the Baltic Hotel where many illegal immigrants are working. The immigrants of course are all hard working honest people and are shocked when they discover that the hotel which hired them off the books is involved in some underhanded scheme (note sarcasm).
The discovery is made when Okwe (Chiwetel Ejiofor) a Nigerian medical student doing double time as a cabby and front desk clerk discovers an unusual stoppage in room 510's lavatory. Matters get worse for Okwe when his friend and co-worker Shenay (Audrey Tautou), with whom he is living, receives an unexpected and unwelcome visit from immigration services. Both Okwe and Shenay are illegal immigrants who have their own reasons for being in London. Under the scrutiny of the immigration officials it becomes increasingly difficult for the two of them to hold down a job.
Shenay's dream of reaching New York City is brought up early in the film. She has a romantic idea of what New York is; it seems that once she reaches the land of her dreams she will once again be faced with the same problem of finding a job and a home while dodging the law. Interestingly enough though Okwe points this out to Shenay and she admits that her view of New York is probably skewed but that she still must go there.
Dirty Pretty Things takes it's time to get any steam going. It appears as though the screenwriter and director weren't sure which story to tell, Okwe and Shenay surviving in London, or the mystery of the toilet blockage. They decided to tell both stories and in the process made neither very exciting nor involving. I was reminded of Lilya 4-Ever during Dirty Pretty Things. Many of the same themes are involved, loss, homelessness, prostitution. Perhaps Dirty Pretty Things is being more widely released because it doesn't have the courage to really tell the story the way Lilya 4-Ever did which admittedly could alienate some moviegoers, however in not doing so it came across too candy-coated for my taste.
Ejiofor shows next to no emotion in the entire film save maybe two scenes. He basically recites his lines and offers no facial expression. Tautou does a good job at what she does best which is being cute. She has adorably huge eyes and it is incredibly painful to watch them as she is forced to provide oral stimulation. Tautou can either play a very cute cuddly person, or grab the audience's attention as a victim. Sergi Lopez who portrays Juan the hotel manager is slimy but not slimy enough to induce a strong repulsive feeling.
What really let me down is not the fault of the director or the actors. It rests on the shoulders of whoever was responsible for marketing this film. The trailer is completely misleading and anyone going to a theater expecting a suspenseful thriller is going to be disappointed. In an exaggerated comparison imagine going to a multiplex to see Texas Chainsaw Massacre and instead finding yourself surrounded by gushy lovers at a screening of Pretty Woman.
The ending does contain an unexpected twist. It works well in this context, but it's the sort of ending that receives groans when tagged to the closure of a good movie, it succeeds with Dirty Pretty Things because it is the first piece of real imagination in a movie that is otherwise devoid of any, and was in effect truly a surprise to me.
The review of this Movie prepared by Christopher Bryan
Set in the shadowy, "unknown" world of illegal immigrants in London, this story concerns a Nigerian native, Okwe (Ejiofor), who holds jobs as a hotel desk clerk and cabby. He splits an apartment with a Turkish girl, Senay (Tautou) -- each of them sleeping there alone while the other is on shift. The manager is an oily Hispanic, Juan (Lopez), the doorman is a Russian (Buric), and Okwe's best friend is a Chinese immigrant, Guo Yi (Wong), who works in a hospital morgue. We see a lot about how dangerous and exploited these basically good people's lives are. There's a lot of under-the-table activity in the hotel -- drug dealing, prostitution -- but one night Okwe discovers a human heart in a toilet, and can't resist trying to find out how it got there. It reveals much nastier activities, of course. This is a thriller with no guns, no car chases, no loud music on the soundtrack: its pace is mostly slow, strange, and deliberate, but the tension is real, and the characters are rich and interesting. Stage actor Ejiofor is magnificent in the lead role. British director Stephen Frears, responsible for such memorable films as "My Beautiful Laundrette," "The Grifters," "Dangerous Liaisons," and "High Fidelity," deserves much applause for this superb 2002 movie.
The review of this Movie prepared by David Loftus