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Dirty Pretty Things (film)

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Title: Dirty Pretty Things (film)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Stephen Frears, Steven Knight, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Audrey Tautou, 56th British Academy Film Awards
Collection: 2000S Crime Drama Films, 2000S Crime Thriller Films, 2002 Films, British Crime Drama Films, British Crime Thriller Films, British Films, British Independent Films, Edgar Award Winning Works, English-Language Films, Films About Immigration, Films About Organ Trafficking, Films Directed by Stephen Frears, Films Set in London, Films Shot in England, Films Shot in London, French-Language Films, Screenplays by Steven Knight, Social Realism in Film, Somali-Language Films, Spanish-Language Films
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Dirty Pretty Things (film)

Dirty Pretty Things
A woman looking over her shoulder, her dark hair blending in to the shadows.
Promotional film poster
Directed by Stephen Frears
Produced by Tracey Seaward
Robert Jones
Written by Steven Knight
Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor
Audrey Tautou
Sergi López
Sophie Okonedo
Benedict Wong
Zlatko Buric
Music by Nathan Larson
Cinematography Chris Menges
Edited by Mick Audsley
Distributed by Miramax Films
Release dates
  • 13 December 2002 (2002-12-13)
Running time
97 minutes[1]
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $10 million[2][3]
Box office $13,904,766[4]

Dirty Pretty Things is a 2002 British drama film directed by Stephen Frears and written by Steven Knight, a drama about two illegal immigrants in London. It was produced by BBC Films and Celador Films.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Reception 3
    • Critical response 3.1
    • Accolades 3.2
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5
  • External links 6


Okwe is an illegal Nigerian immigrant to the United Kingdom who drives a cab in London during the day and works at the front desk of a hotel at night. The hotel is staffed with many immigrants, both legal and illegal. Okwe keeps himself awake by chewing khat, an herbal stimulant. A doctor in his home country, he was forced to flee after being falsely accused of murdering his wife. In London, he is pressed into giving medical treatment to other poor immigrants, including fellow cab drivers with venereal diseases. Okwe's friend Guo Yi, an employee at a hospital mortuary, provides him with antibiotics under the table.

A prostitute known as Juliette, who plies her trade in the hotel, informs Okwe about a blocked toilet in one of the hotel rooms. He fishes out the blockage and finds a human heart. The manager of the hotel, Juan, runs an illegal operation at the hotel wherein immigrants sweatshop making clothes, but the officials raid that site, too. The entire staff flee to the roof while the manager gets rid of the Immigration agents. The manager will let Senay keep her job and promises not to report her to the authorities only if she will perform oral sex on him. After a couple of such sessions, she refuses to cooperate and bites him, then flees with an expensive coat and some dresses.

Okwe finds her a place to stay at the hospital mortuary, but Senay panics. She asks him to raise money for her to travel to America by selling the stolen clothes and acting as a surgeon in Juan's organ business. Okwe refuses.

In desperation, Senay agrees to exchange a kidney for a passport. As a "deal maker", Juan takes her virginity as well, and later Juliette provides her with the morning-after pill. After learning of Senay's plan, Okwe tells Juan that he will perform the operation to ensure her safety, but only if Juan provides them both with passports under different names. After Juan delivers the passports, Okwe and Senay drug him, surgically remove his kidney, and sell it to Juan's contact.

Okwe plans to use his new identity to return to his young daughter in Nigeria, and Senay plans to start a new life in New York City. Before they part at Stansted Airport, she gives him her cousin's address in New York. They mouth the words, "I love you", to each other. Senay boards her plane, and Okwe calls long-distance to his daughter to tell her he is coming home at last.



Critical response

Dirty Pretty Things received positive reviews. Metacritic gives it a rating of 78/100 based on reviews from 35 critics.[5] Rotten Tomatoes gives it a score of 94% judging it "Certified Fresh", based on 138 reviews. The site's critical consensus describes the film as, "An illuminating and nuanced film about the exploitation of illegal immigrants." [6]


Dirty Pretty Things was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and won a British Independent Film Award for "Best Independent British Film" in 2003. For his performance as Okwe, Chiwetel Ejiofor won the 2003 British Independent Film Award for best actor.


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  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Dirty Pretty Things at Box Office Mojo
  5. ^
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Further reading

External links

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