" For your information, my life is a living Hell "
— Elizabeth Hurley (as the devil), Bedazzled

MRQE Top Critic

The Great Train Robbery

(review...)

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After watching Dirty Pretty Things, director Stephen Frears’ (High Fidelity, Dangerous Liaisons) fascinating and suspenseful portrayal of life among illegal immigrants, you may never look at your hotel’s maids or clerks the same way again.

Foreigners

Sharp, honest Okwe prefers work to sleep
Sharp, honest Okwe prefers work to sleep

In writer Stephen Knight’s story of an African man and a Turkish woman who work at a London hotel, the pair must make terrible decisions in their quest to elude immigration officials.

The film is romantic without ever veering into sentimentality; the brilliant Audrey Tautou (Amelie) captures a determined innocence in the role of Senay; her poignant near-romance with the more worldly character of Okwe (Chiwetel Ejiofor) raises the stakes of the pair’s enterprises. Sergi Lopez provides a sometimes funny yet chilling foil as their evil hotel boss.

DVD Extras

A brief, behind-the-scenes featurette adds little to the enjoyment of the film. Frears’ commentary track only occasionally compels as he shares a handful of anecdotes about making Dirty Pretty Things (for example, that during filming the filmmakers had to adjust to Audrey Tautou’s sudden explosion of fame for her star turn in Amelie; and that he doesn’t know what the title means) and explains a couple of in-jokes. He spends too much of the time lavishing praise on the actors, endlessly reiterating that Catalán actor Sergi Lopéz couldn’t speak much English.

Picture and Sound

The DVD captures a London that is drenched in greens and reds and strong hues that reflect the vibrancy of its interracial and intercultural subjects. Cinematographer Chris Menges’ unshowy camera work and Nathan Larson’s lilting, contemporary score lend a careful musical and visual emphasis that allows Dirty Pretty Things to stand on its excellent dialogue and plot.