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4.4 out of 5 stars45
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 23 July 2003
In terms of culture this film shows us brits a truly different story of immigrants and multi ethnic communities, whether you agree or disagree with the country's policies on immigration, I think you will be hard pushed not to feel compassion and sympathy for these characters. Having said that I must stress this film is not about doom and gloom, it keeps a good deal of humour throughout, but it has a strong undercurrent, and a plot which I found original and not easily predicted. The acting is fantastic, the only actor I knew of before being Audrey Tautou of Amelie fame, which just shows her versatility, as this role is a far cry from the lovable french girl, she plays a Turkish refugee trying to survive in London, paying rent and food bills and not being allowed to legally work. The lead role being played by Chiwetel Ejiofor is equally convincing, his charater is lighter and more comedic which brings the whole film a watchable yet intense quality. This film has to be one of the must see films of the year, do yourself a favour, drop the holywood blockbusters for this week, you won't be sorry.
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Dirty Pretty Things will never be mainstream and will never be viewed by the masses. This is a real shame because the majority of the blockbusters we get to see have nothing to offer other than perhaps 90 minutes of special effects. Dirty Pretty Things will stay with you for a very long time after the final scene plays.
The film refuses to be heavy handed about the issues which most will focus on -- illegal immigrants. Neither does the film lose itself in characterisation at the expense of story -- there is a good plot which really gets you gripped as you wonder how things will turn out.
I cannot recommend this film highly enough. I hope that the British film industry continues to make films like this and resist the urge to only make "Hugh Grant vehicles". DPT reminds us how powerful cinema can be, without needing huge explosions to impress you. I urge you to watch this.
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Dirty Pretty Things was at once a pleasant surprise and a slight disappointment. It stands head and shoulders above the wreckage of most recent Britflicks, but it still never quite reaches the heights. Part of the problem is that the background is the story, leaving us with an at times slight narrative and a very predictable final twist that seems very much like one of Roald Dahl's Tales of the Very Much as We Expected (the moment Chiwetel Ejiofor stops Sergi Lopez's hands from shaking you know exactly what's coming).

That said, it's still a worthwhile trip. Unlike most British films, and London ones in particular, it actually uses the city as a character - in this case the hidden city. We see virtually no ordinary British citizens. Instead the film is inhabited by the illegal immigrants who do the dirty jobs that no-one else wants, the lead character a Nigerian doctor who works double-shifts as taxi driver and hotel porter and rents a couch in Turkish maid Audrey Tatou's couch on a timeshare basis. This milieu is superbly captured, and you get a sense of a world not so much hidden as ignored. Frears direction too is back to the power and drive of his early work after his recent flabby American entries, although he still can't resist caricaturing the Immigration officials - rather than the bored, disinterested and impersonal reality he's opted for cheap comic book villains that diminishes every scene they appear in. Similarly, he doesn't always keep a tight enough rein on some of the supporting performances, Sophie Okenedo in particular: she can be a much better actress, but here she's allowed to veer too much to stereotype and has a couple of awkward moments. Lopez too falls back on some of his overfamiliar mannerisms, although Ejiofor is quite superb in the lead, and his easygoing scenes with Benedict Wong's mortuary waste disposal technician are minor highlights.

Nonetheless, with most British cinema so awful these days, this is definitely worth catching: a very good film even if it could have been even better.

The DVD transfer is fine but the extras are negligible extras from the R1 NTSC disc (a brief featurette and a commentary with lots of dead air from Stephen Frears) are missing from the UK disc.

The transfer on StudioCanal's region B-locked Blu-ray is fine though clearly taken from the same master used for the DVD but the extras are negligible - the same commentary with lots of dead air from Stephen Frears and a trailer - so negligible, in fact, they're not even listed on the packaging. (The US Blu-ray also includes a brief behind the scenes featurette but reportedly has an underwhelming transfer).
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VINE VOICEon 9 April 2010
It was only because of a mild fascination for Audrey Tautou that I stumbled across this film. Very glad that I did.

Both my wife and I thinks this is one of the best films we have seen in a long time.

The film moves at a very steady pace (that's NOT a synonym for slow and boring) , with the story drawing you into the characters and vice versa. The acting is absolute top-notch and the characters very believable. There are no cheesy stereotypes or clichés that distract from the story.

Here is a story set in London that really uncovers the not-so-pleasant underbelly of the London illegal immigrant scene and the struggles that they go through in order to try and live undetected here in the UK.

If you are looking for an interesting film, with an arresting story, and engaging characters, then this will in no way disappoint. This is easily in my top 10 films, and possibly even in my top 5. Well worth the watch.
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on 3 October 2005
Directed by Stephen Frears, 'Dirty Pretty Things' is both a thriller and modern morality tale set in the underbelly of London - the world of illegal immigrants, sweatshops and prostitution. It is an atmospheric film with fantastic central performances from both Chiwetel Ejiofor and Audrey Tautou, (famously known for her role in Amelie).
Okwe (Ejiofor) works two jobs, as mini-cab driver in the day and in a hotel as a night porter. Haunted by the life he escaped in Africa, he has little time for sleep. When he does rest, it is on the couch of Senay (Tautou) - a Turkish Muslim claiming refugee status in the UK - she too works illegally in the hotel and dreams of a new life in the USA.
When a grisly secret is discovered in the hotel, they find themselves struggling to survive it. When you don't exist how can you report something to the police?
The film poses some challenging questions, the foremost of which are... what are you prepared to do to survive and what price is too high to achieve your dream?
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on 18 August 2011
Dirty Pretty Things [DVD] [2002]
This was recommended to me because I was writing a story about an illegal immigrant. I would have never chosed it for the title, which was off-putting, but after a slow strart I was hooked. The script and the acting are first class, and the ending came as a surprise. I can highly recommend it.
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If you were delighted by Audrey Tatou's quirky, comedic role in AMELIE, be prepared for a whole new side of this French actress in DIRTY PRETTY THINGS. This young star does drama with the best. And either way, her enormous brown eyes would melt linoleum.
Tatou plays Senay, an undocumented Turkish immigrant toiling in London's underground labor pool as a maid at the Hotel Baltic in an unprepossessing part of the city. The night shift desk clerk, Okwe (Chiwetel Ejiofor), also undocumented, is a Nigerian on the run from government persecution back home. In the old country, Okwe was a licensed physician. In London, besides his hotel gig, Okwe drives a cab using borrowed credentials. Senay surreptitiously allows Okwe, who hasn't a permanent residence, the use of her flat's couch to sleep on while she works the day shift.
One morning, Okwe pulls a fresh human heart out of a plugged toilet in one of the hotel's rooms. Wishing to make it a police matter, Okwe brings the body part to the attention of the Baltic's day manager, Sneaky (Sergi Lopez), who persuades the former to let the matter rest by playing on his fear of discovery by Immigration. Besides, Sneaky advises, the job of a hotel is to PRETTY up the DIRTY THINGS that happen during the wee hours.
If you're hoping to catch a glimpse of touristy London, forget it. I've been there more times than I can remember, and didn't spot anything I recognized - not even the Thames. This is London's gritty underbelly, the home of undocumented immigrants so desperate to reach someplace better that they risk death selling their body parts on the transplantable organs black market in exchange for passports and airline tickets. For instance, Senay longs for New York City, a place (she thinks) of lights in the trees and policeman on white horses, where she has a cousin.
Tatou appears on American ads for DIRTY PRETTY THINGS perhaps because she's the only one of the actors potentially recognizable to U.S. audiences. However, Ejiofor is the film's lead, and his low key, excellent performance argues for more widespread exposure. Lopez's Sneaky is the sort of oily, disgusting villain that one loves to hate. Particularly endearing in a secondary role is Sophie Okonedo as Juliette, the effervescent hooker who uses the Baltic for her nightly trysts.
DIRTY PRETTY THINGS is an unusual love story, a tale of righteous retribution, and an indictment of sordid conditions just around the corner and out of sight of the chirpy tour guide and her charges on their way to Buckingham Palace to have a chinwag with the Queen. It's a film different from, and certainly much superior to, the usual fare.
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on 30 March 2007
A brilliant film, documenting the lives of asylum seekers as they work to build something for themselves under the radar. The characters are fully realised, the love story genuinely touching, and the thriller aspect of the story taut and suitably gruesome.

Chiwetel Ejiofor is as brilliant as he always is, giving a sensitive understated performance of a man pushed to the extreme and no-one does wide-eyed innocence quite like Audrey Tatou.

Not an easy watch, but head and shoulders above most things I have seen.
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on 26 February 2014
A great film with a sad subtext. I had average expectations. I found rich characterisation and compelling personal stories which highlight a world most people would prefer not to think about or to think about in such a way way that humanity and the personal stories are missing. It's uncomfortable looking at immigrants and the underbelly of the underclass seeking a life that is better than that from which they have fled.

If you hate the typical Hollywood block buster and the bland predictable British romcom, you'll be pleasantly surprised with this. Great acting from almost all which it allows you to see the best in human beings, drive, worth ethic, compassion and love and the worst, exploitation, cynicism, greed and yet there is no didactic approach or tense narration. Very good.
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on 14 March 2014
What is instantly likable about Dirty Pretty Things is that it looks at immigration in London from a completely other view the side of the immigrant. The struggles that are faced to be a human being should be enough in this life without someone telling you you don't belong on a piece of land. The film shows people especially in authority to be exactly what they are- criminally insane.

The lead players have their own dreams- small dreams that are magnified into huge ones, given their struggles. You do get a better sense of the film if you have ever lived in London or any big city.

Well acted, well paced- a movie that can be watched again, very good.
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