Dirty Pretty Things

Rating: * * * (out of 5)
Director: Stephen Frears
Running time: 97 minutes
Language: English
Currently showing
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I'm not one of those cranky post-Marxist social critics who believe that the movies, particularly the American brand, subtly reinforce attitudes toward order and the status quo while posing as mere entertainment. Having said that, there is something striking in how many movies there are about cops (thousands) vs. how many there are about, say, illegal immigrants.

"Dirty Pretty Things," the latest from director Stephen Frears, does something to correct the imbalance by focusing on the vulnerability of illegal workers. And not to be beaten out by all those "cop" movies, he has made this a gripping, suspenseful flick, while never straying too far from the reality he's trying to portray.

"We are the people you do not see. We drive your cars, clean your rooms, and suck your c**ks." So says Okwey (Chiwetel Ejiofor), an illegal worker from Nigeria, in a moment of anger. He's a London taxi driver by day, hotel front-desk clerk by night, and chews khat to ward off sleep, so it's understandable if he loses his temper. But for the most part, he doesn't, struggling silently to keep his head above water, hopefully save a little money, and get a new, doctored passport that will bring him a little security.