Dirty Pretty Things (2002)

dirty pretty things poster

Amelie speaks English.

My favorite Audrey Tautou speaks my very own language. There is a god after all.

She speaks very odd English with some kind of accent, in a rather dark, disturbing film.

Over the last year I have become more and more (enamored? mystified? let’s just say) intrigued with British culture. This began while I was living in France. I became friends with a number of folks from England and we had many conversations about the differences between American and British cultures.

French movie theatres also show a great deal more British films than their American counterparts. An ongoing writing friendship with some of my Blogcritic companions residing in Great Britain has also engulfed me in the interesting world of British rock. Great bands like Babyshambles have come to my attention across the great blue sea.

It is a fascinating thing to see how very much similar we all are, and yet how completely different we remain.

Dirty Pretty Things takes place in the dirty, back streets of London. It concerns the dark world of illegal immigrants and the sometimes shady deals they make trying to stay.

It opens with a mysterious man who works by day as a cab driver, nights as a motel watchman, and in between as some kind of underground doctor. It’s all unexplained, mysterious, and weird.

We find that he is an illegal working multiple jobs all of the time so that he may stay in England because he cannot return to his homeland. It all remains unexplained, mysterious, and weird.

This man, called Okwe (Chiwetel Ejiofor), is a good, honest man. Through the course of the film, he must do very bad things in order to stay in the country and not be turned in. The movie works as a competent thriller while trying to say something about the current state of British immigration. Like US immigration there is a myriad of problems, not the least of which is the underground black market that revolves around illegals.

Stephen Frears does a good job of keeping the politics in the background and the suspense right up front. It isn’t pleasant looking, for it delves into the back alleys and dark corridors of a city, but it tells that story with a true eye.

‘Tis not a perfect film by any means. The plotting by its end is a little heavy-handed and it tries to say more about society than it is really able to. And even my beloved Audrey speaks in an accent that makes me cringe, but it is a film well worth watching. If nothing more than to give me more pleasure from my newfound English fixation.

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