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    Dirty Pretty Things

    The organ trail

    Finding a human heart in a hotel room leads an ordinary pair of protagonists on a bizarre odyssey into a world of black-market organ removals in Stephen Frears's "Dirty Pretty Things."


    Stephen Frears's "Dirty Pretty Things" features Chiwetel Ejiofor and Audrey Tautou (Am四ie) as a couple of illegal immigrants caught up in London's sleazy underworld.

    Directed by: Stephen Frears.
    Written by: Steve Knight.
    Cast: Audrey Tautou, Sergi L用ez, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sophie Okonedo, Benedict Wong, Zlatko Buric.

    Related links: Official site | All of David N. Butterworth's reviews at Rotten Tomatoes
    Okwe, a good-natured Nigerian doctor who fled his homeland under harrowing circumstances, drives a cab and fronts the Baltic Hotel at night as its desk clerk. Senay (Tautou) is a Turkish native illegally employed as a maid at the Baltic. She provides Okwe with a couch to sleep on but he rarely ever sleeps, choosing instead to chew on a medicinal root to keep himself awake. (He needs the work that badly.)

    When Okwe discovers a human heart in one of the hotel's rooms (he fishes it from an overflowing lavatory bowl with a wire coat hanger) the two quickly find themselves embroiled in a black market of high-priced organ removals and some less than willing donors.

    Dirty Pretty Things  
    Written by Steve Knight and directed by Frears with the same kind of gritty realism he brought to some of his earlier works (most notably "Prick Up Your Ears"), "Dirty Pretty Things" benefits from deft direction, substantive plotting, and likable leads. Ejiofor, an unfamiliar face to American audiences, is solid and sympathetic as Okwe, effectively portraying a man forced to make morally reprehensible decisions in order to survive. Tautou is also excellent.

    In addition, the supporting characters are so nicely developed they stay with you, from doorman Ivan and Se撲r Sneaky (the Baltic's appropriately named manager, played by Sergi L用ez, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Anthony LaPaglia), to Guo Yi the morgue attendant and Juliette the hooker, both of whom inject the film with some much needed wit (case in point: the "we are the people you don't see" scene towards the end). In fact, for a film as gruesome as "Dirty Pretty Things" often is, Frears makes the experience rewarding by painting genuinely compassionate people caught up in unpalatable circumstances.

    SEPTEMBER 5, 2003

    Reader comments on Dirty Pretty Things:

  • excellent - original and moving   from aga, Nov 9, 2003

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