WARNING: This review contains minor plot spoilers. Do not continue reading if you would like to be surprised at every aspect of the film.
“The hotel business is about strangers, and strangers will always surprise you. They come to hotels in the night to do dirty things, and in the morning it’s our job to make things look pretty again.”
People do dirty things in hotel rooms; not only dirty in a sexual context, but also dirty in an immoral and disgusting way. Some have sex with prostitutes, while others perform painful surgeries on illegal immigrants. These dirty deeds may seem dissolute in their own right, but can these filthy actions be justified when something helpful, or in this case “pretty,” results?
Dirty Pretty Things is set in London, not only a city where they steer from the right side of a vehicle and drive on the left side of the road, but also one of the many cities where the populace of illegal immigrants is posing a problem. This picture takes a look at immigration through the illegal immigrants’ point-of-view; being viewed from their standpoint, it is easy to feel sympathetic towards their unlawful action. The sacrifices that they make in order to remain in hiding and to stay out of the hands of immigration services are superbly depicted here in a dark, grey, and gritty fashion - for they are just trying to make it in this world like everyone else. The intense struggling and degradation that the characters go through make this picture the Requiem for a Dream of immigration (not drugs).
At first, Okwe (Chiwetel Ejofor) appears to be a hard-working inhabitant of London. But, it is later revealed that this black Brit, who has been working full time (x 2), as a taxi driver by day and a front desk worker at the Baltic Hotel by night, is not a citizen of England after all. This man, who doesn’t sleep more than a few winks a night, is much more than a concierge and an employee with public transportation; it turns out, Okwe is actually a skilled doctor/surgeon who has emigrated from Africa in fear of his own safety. While in London, he lives literally with both eyes open: fearful to be found by the powers that be.