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Reviews » Theatrical Reviews » Dirty Pretty Things
Dirty Pretty Things
Other // R // July 18, 2003
Review by Megan Denny | posted July 16, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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Dirty Pretty Things

A human heart is discovered in a hotel bathroom. Think that's unusual? So is the man who found it. Who is he? A man that doesn't exist. In Dirty Pretty Things Stephen Frears has created a fascinating world of dependant strangers where nothing is as it seems.

Okwe, a Nigerian exile lives illegally in modern-day London. He works two jobs under the table: a minicab driver by day and a hotel porter at night. After discovering a human heart in one of the bathrooms, Okwe learns a terrible secret about the hotel, and the hotel learns a few secrets about him. The discoveries of both parties force Okwe to decide between his moral beliefs and the well-being of people he cares about.

Frears has crafted an intense urban portrait reminiscent of My Beautiful Laundrette. Dirty Pretty Things is smart, thrilling, and tells a fascinating story with maturity and cinematic finesse. It would be so easy for a film like Dirty Pretty Things to become preachy or horribly depressing, but Frears avoids both of these pitfalls thanks to an excellent script, and stellar cast.

Chiwetel Ejiofor is wonderful as the troubled yet reverent Okwe, and Audrey Tautou shows promise as a dramatic actress. Zlatko Buric provides comic relief as the doorman with the devil-may-care-attitude, and the stunning Sophie Okonedo should win an award for the best knocking off of socks.

Though it is beautifully lit and photographed, Dirty Pretty Things has a few moments which are challenging to watch. Without giving too much away, the "dirty secret" of the hotel involves unpleasant things done to human beings. It's not reason enough to avoid this movie, just be prepared to avert your eyes.

With Dirty Pretty Things Frears assures us that the heart of independent film is still beating. He reminds us that there are a hundred stories out there yet to be told about places where dirty pretty things go on under the nose of the real world. What's more, these stories can be effectively told without the use of swelling scores, dramatic pauses or overpaid actors.

-Megan

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