Film Review: Dirty Pretty Things (2002)

Written by Peaky Blinder maestro Steven Knight and directed by Stephen Frears, Dirty Pretty Things remains a pretty darn great movie

“You are a refugee. You have no position here. You have nothing, You are nothing.”

There’s no doubting that Steven Knight is a pretty decent writer, the enormous success of Peaky Blinders shows us that, but he’s also a dab hand at films too, with credits that include Locke and Dirty Pretty Things. Dating back to 2002, the latter is powerfully effective, reminding us of the hypocrisy of a London economy that relies so heavily on exploited immigrant labour whilst mandating so hostile an environment for them.

Stephen Frears’ film is far more than a treatise on asylum seekers. Rather, it is a thriller, almost a heist movie in the end, which carries the reality for immigrant workers as its backdrop. Okwe is Nigerian and Senay is Turkish, both here without paperwork and both barely scratching a living through the most menial of jobs in taxi firms, sweatshops and shady hotels. It is at this last one where they meet and where they get swept up into a right rollicking time.

I’d go into the film knowing as little as possible, its twists and surprises proving highly enjoyable for me, even in their more gruesome moments and if the end result is perhaps just a little sentimentally tinged, only a monster would begrudge this ending. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Audrey Tautou lead with aplomb, Sophie Okonedo and Benedict Wong support with charm and Sergi López threatens with real menace. Plus there’s bonus Noma Dumezweni and Adrian Scarborough. Recommended.

 

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