Political Film Society - Dirty Pretty Things


PFS Film Review
Dirty Pretty Things


 

Dirty Pretty Things"We drive your taxis, make your beds, and suck your cocks," according to Dr. Okwe (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) in Dirty Pretty Things, commenting on the fate of illegal aliens in London. A physician who left Nigeria to avoid arrest and prosecution for a murder that he did not commit, Okwe has two jobs and hopes that he will remain afloat as an illegal alien. In the daytime, he drives a taxi, hawking at the airport for customers who have been stood up by those who promised to pick them up; at night, he is a porter at the Hotel Baltic. When the film begins, the taxi dispatcher has gonorrhea and asks Okwe to get some medicine. One of Okwe's friends, Gui Yi (played by Benedict Wong), is able to supply the medicine. A Turkish friend, Sinay (played by Audrey Tautou), is also an illegal alien. In love with him, she also has two jobs--as a seamstress at a sweatshop whose owner demands to be serviced daily and as a maid at the Hotel Baltic. The hotel is in part a front for illegal activities. A prostitute regularly entertains clients, but not in the Chichester Suite. That room is reserved for illegal aliens who are willing to exchange a kidney for a passport, a racket run by a hotel employee, Sneaky (played by Sergi Lopez), that greatly displeases Okwe. Sneaky points out that "Strangers come to hotels to do dirty things; in the morning it's our job to make things pretty again." The story comes to a head (pardon the pun) one day when Sinay decides to bite rather than suck. She then races across town to Okwe for protection. He, in turn, secures temporary lodging at Gui Yi's place of work, a mortuary. Since she cannot bear sleeping in the same facility with dead people, she goes to the hotel, and consents to have her kidney harvested so that she can get a passport to join her sister in New York. Sneaky, of course, also takes advantage by forcing her to have sex, in the process finding out that she is a virgin. When Okwe finds out what Sinay wants, he tells Sneaky that he will perform the operation so that she will not die due to unsanitary conditions. His decision sets up a scene in which members of the audience will clap, as justice is finally served. Directed by Stephen Frears, Dirty Pretty Things is an exposé of what illegal aliens, desperate to save their lives, face in more cities than London. Accordingly, the Political Film Society has nominated Dirty Pretty Things as best film exposé and best film on human rights of 2003. MH

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