Pin It
Favorite

DVD Review 

by Sheri Boggs


Just friends" isn't necessarily a bad thing. Although our culture tends to view such an arrangement as the emotional equivalent of getting a glass of warm milk instead of some much-desired rack of lamb, there is much to be said for the steadier qualities of true, unadulterated friendship. In fact, in the case of the two illegal immigrants - one Turkish, one Nigerian - in Stephen Frears' Dirty Pretty Things, "just friends" is the key to their very survival. Okwe (Chiwetel Ejiofor) drives a taxi during the day, works at the Baltic Hotel at night, and, whenever possible, catches a few hours of sleep on the couch belonging to one of the maids at the hotel, Senay (Audrey Tautou). Their arrangement is secret, and Senay risks deportation if Okwe is discovered staying there. Although they are not romantically entangled, they rely on each other for not only rent or a place to stay but also for some sense of connection in an unfamiliar, harsh environment.


Frears gives us a version of London we don't often see - that of a service sector comprised of illegal aliens trying to get legal and an underground system that preys on their situation. When Okwe goes to investigate a clogged toilet in one of the hotel's rooms and finds there a human heart, he goes to his supervisor only to be told to mind his own business. "You will learn, Okwe, that the hotel business is about strangers. People come to hotels, in the night, to do dirty things," the supervisor tells him. "In the morning, it's our job to make things pretty again."


Although the marketing department clearly hoped to trade on the enormous success of Am & eacute;lie (the movie poster and the DVD cover show Audrey Tautou in a suggestive, bare shoulders pose), the real draw in this movie is the relatively unknown Chiwetel Ejiofor. Don't get me wrong - Tautou is very good in this, and it was wise of her to take on such a gritty project. But Ejiofor is mesmerizing in his scenes, subtly conveying dignity, weariness and gentle affection with little more than his eyes and slight shifts in his bearing. It is just that restraint and subtlety, in fact, that makes Dirty Pretty Things so memorable. Even when Okwe gets to the bottom of things, even when the movie ends with retribution more or less delivered, the viewer is left with questions unanswered and a sense of remaining mystery as complex, perhaps, as love itself.





Publication date: 04/15/04

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • When a Horse Isn't a Horse
  • When a Horse Isn't a Horse

    Gambling machines help Idaho's racing industries limp along — but maybe not for long
    • Jan 28, 2015
  • 'The Time Has Come'
  • 'The Time Has Come'

    Idaho considers protections for sexual orientation; plus, a new Spokane City Council candidate emerges
    • Jan 28, 2015
  • Freeze Frame
  • Freeze Frame

    Some want to limit the release of footage from police body cameras. What would that mean for Spokane?
    • Jan 28, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed
Chad "Cheddar" Rattray Memorial/Fundraiser

Chad "Cheddar" Rattray Memorial/Fundraiser @ Wild Dawgs

Fri., Jan. 30, 3 p.m.-2 a.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Sheri Boggs

  • Beer and Branding in PDX

    • Sep 15, 2005
  • Rural Revolution

    All the farms I remember from growing up in North Idaho and Eastern Washington were not what you'd call stylish. In fact, what I do remember are blocky sofas covered in that ubiquitous mauve upholstery, copper Jell-O molds lining the kitche
    • Jun 23, 2005
  • Pictures of an Expedition

    First things first. Author Claire Rudolf Murphy has it on good authority that "Sacajawea" is pronounced the way we've always done it here in the Inland Northwest. Soft "j" sound, accents on the first and fourth syllables. Of course now, his
    • Jun 23, 2005
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Say 'No' to Fear

    Why Spokane ought to embrace its roots as an immigrant-friendly place
    • Jan 21, 2015
  • Mothers and Leaders

    History often overlooks the women who powered the politics of the civil rights movement
    • Jan 7, 2015
  • More »

© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation