Film Review: Dirty Pretty Things
Stephen Frears cast his eye on immigrant life in London
An unlikely romantic involvement forms the backdrop to this moderately paced
drama centred around immigrant life in the greater London area. The film
revolves around two characters in particular - one Turkish chambermaid, Senay
(Audrey Tatou of 'Amelie' fame) and Okwe a Nigerian
night porter at the same
hotel (played by Chietel Ejifor). Both survive in an after-hours London world of
low paid, cash-in-hand jobs and greasy spoon cafes. All relationships among this
almost invisible population are based on a need to know basis, both life
dependent and minimally interactive at the same time.
Stephen Frears manages to direct the sensitive issue of illegal immigration without a glimmer of condescension, foregoing political & moral statements and taking a deeply humanistic approach instead. Ejifor is particularly powerful as the hardworking cabdriver by day, porter by night, whose tortured demeanour hints at a darker past. Audrey Tatou leaves the dodgy accent brigade far behind her in her convincing portrayal of a resourceful Turkish girl. Other convincing characters are the burly hotel doorman (Zlato Bavric) and the dodgy hotel manager played by Sergio Lopez (seen in 'Une Liaison Pornographique'), who is the epitome of sleaze.
All is not what it seems at the ostensibly plush hotel, which is used as a front for macabre operations involving the exploitation of the immigrants (to divulge exactly what, would give the game away for the unlikely few who don't see what's coming). The tale is not a completely grim one however and some light relief is provided in scenes such as those involving the Russian doorman and his weekly extravagance and by Okwe's friend, the mortuary attendant. All in all this semi-thriller, semi- romantic tale is engaging for its sensitivity and realism, worth a view.
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