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"Dirty Pretty Things"

Directed by Stephen Frears ("The Grifters").
Written by Steven Knight. 
Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Audrey Tautou and Sergi Lopez.
Release Year:  2002 
Review Date:  8/27/03 


I believe that Steve “Moore” Baron recommended this one to me, but even without his rec we had good film elements on paper:  Audrey Tautou, the star of “Amelie”, as one of the leads; a good-looking London shoot; director Stephen Frears (best known for “The Grifters”).  But, what does all of this add up to?

Well, honestly, I thought “Dirty Pretty Things” was very average when all was said and done.  The production is quite slick, and the plot features an illegal African immigrant named Okwe (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who has moved to London for reasons unknown but clearly needs money, so he works two jobs, one as a night receptionist at a downtown hotel.  One night after picking up behind a hooker’s visit to a room, he makes a discovery that alerts him to problems that only the hotel manager Juan (Sergi Lopez) seems to know about.  So, with the help of a woman named Senay (Tautou) that is putting Okwe up temporarily, the twosome try to figure out just what the hell is going on in that hotel!

I thought that Ejiofor was excellent; as the stoic, oft-emotionless Okwe, he does a very good job at making you get behind the investigation as well as his personal story that unfolds over the film’s 100-minute running time.  The development of the Okwe character, as well as the smooth-looking shots of London by night and throughout the hotel, are very well done.  Parts of the script, especially much of the dialogue, are very strong and I really liked the score of the film, which kind of reminded me of my earlier experience with “The Good Thief”, the Nick Nolte film released last year.

But, once we in the audience discover the secret of the hotel, the film loses its edge and becomes a more ordinary thriller.  By only giving us about a half-dozen regular characters, there is not much room left for discovery and we know by the halfway point that Okwe and Senay might have a thing for each, where do we go from here?  The ending for “Dirty Pretty Things” was some mix of not very interesting and just a tad bit too easy; I was very unsatisfied with the ending, which just seemed to lay limply on the ground while trying to flip itself back over.

Not much to say here.  So-so, and it’s not necessary to see in this in theaters...but, it’ll make a great rent!

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09