innocent_man: (noir)
[personal profile] innocent_man
Dirty Pretty Things is a noir-ish drama starring a bunch of people with names that aren't easy to spell or pronounce. The star of the movie is Chiwetel Ejiofor, aka the dude who played the Operative in Serenity.

So he plays Okwe, a man working as a cab driver as well as the night desk work at a swank London hotel. He doesn't sleep if he can help it, and chews some kind of plant to keep him awake. We learn early on that he's trained as a doctor, and as the movie goes on and we meet his friends (the Russian night doorman, Chinese morgue worker, English prostitute Juliette (played by Oscar nominee Sophie Okenedo) and his roommate, a Turkish hotel maid named Senay (Audrey Tatou)), all of whom are illegal immigrants, refugees or otherwise working the underside of life.

In the beginning of the movie, Okwe pulls a human heart out of a toilet. It turns out that his hotel manager, Juan (Sergio Lopez) is running a racket where he pulls out people's kidneys, sells them for a lot of money, and gives the "donor" an English passport. When he learns that Okwe is a doctor, he tries to blackmail him into doing the surgery. Meanwhile, the immigration police are busting down Senay's door, and she is forced to work in a sweatshop where her boss rapes her.

There's actually a lot of rape in the movie, all of it directed at Senay. Okwe has his own issues; he's attracted to Senay, but he's trying to keep his head down because he's in England illegally. The movie is dark and dirty, and really about Okwe's attempts to remain any kind of ethical in the face of the shit going on around him.

As difficult as bits of the movie are, I really enjoy it. It's very World of Darkness, and specifically I think that, thematically, it's very Promethean. At the end, the man buying the kidneys remarks to Okwe (and Senay and Juliette), "I've never seen you people before." Okwe replies, "Because we are the people you do not see." That theme of disenfranchisement and forcing people to live criminal lives because they can't afford to live any other way is pretty pervasive, and I think makes the movie compelling.

My grade: A-
Rewatch value: Medium-low

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January 2013

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