Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Dirty Pretty Things

From Stephen Frears, the Oscar-nominated director of the stunning THE GRIFTERS and DANGEROUS LIAISONS, DIRTY PRETTY THINGS stars Chiwetel Ejiofor and Audrey Tautou in a harrowing tale of struggle and survival for two immigrants who learn that everything is for sale in London's secret underworld. Part of an invisible working class, Nigerian exile Okwe (Ejiofor) and Turkish chambermaid Seney (Tautou) toil at a west London hotel that teems with illigal activity, presided over by the repellent Sneaky (Sergi Lopez). Late one night Okwe makes a shocking discovery when unblocking a toilet, which creates an impossible dilemma and tests them to the limits. This gritty urban thriller is thoroughly engrossing and hard to forget. 

Ejiofor, Best Actor nominee this year for 12 YEARS A SLAVE (and who was a terrific tranny in KINKY BOOTS) again excels with quiet dignity as the doctor in his home country now having to hold down two jobs in London - driving cabs and working on the night desk of that hotel where he observes busy people like Sophie Okonedo as a hard-working, hard-living hooker. 
During the day he grabs some sleep on the sofa of fellow hotel worker, Seney. They share the apartment but not a romance though their feelings for each other develop, as events sprial out of control after he finds that human heart blocking the toilet. London is a dark city here with noctural creatures on the prowl. Okwe knew about the prostitution and drugs, but now it seems there is an industry in human body parts ....  the staggeringly villainous hotel manager, Sneaky, is played with oily precision by Sergi Lopez - as fascinating as he was in HARRY, HE'S HERE TO HELP (French label). It is a quite satisfying conclusion when the tables are turned on Sneaky - and how - by our trio. 
Will they get away with it? Seney wants to go to New York - but surely she would be just as much an outsider there? - while Okwe wants to return to Africa to see his daughter. There is a great airport scene as they confess their feelings for each other.  For a film set in London none of the main characters are English and in fact the natives are hardly seen, as we mingle with the taxi drivers and the morturary attendants Okwe had to deal with. His friend the night porter at the morgue is Chinese, and the hotel doorman is Russian. The city we see through their eyes is squalid, crowded, sleazy, perilous--not at all the gleaming promised land of immigrant fantasies. 
Frears of course had more successes with THE QUEEN and, recently, PHILOMENA but this 2002 title is up there with his best, like MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE or PRICK UP YOUR EARS and again shows how marvellous he is with actors and visuals. Written by Steven Knight and shot by veteran Chris Menges. Another great 'London in the movies' movie then!

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