In the shadows of immigrant London lie 'Dirty Pretty Things'
Seattle Times movie critic
When a movie contains a character named Sneaky, and when he's played by the sly-eyed Sergi Lopez ("With a Friend Like Harry") with a jaunty walk and a dark purpose, you know that this movie has a few surprises up its sleeve.
British director Stephen Frears has made a string of fine films on both sides of the Atlantic ("High Fidelity," "Liam," "The Grifters," "My Beautiful Laundrette," "Dangerous Liaisons" — and let's just agree to forget about "Mary Reilly"), and here he's touched down on a London few know: the fearful network of illegal immigrants, quietly performing menial jobs and living day-to-day in shadows hidden from the authorities.
It's a ripe setting for a desperate scheme, and sure enough, there's one afoot — why else would a human heart be found in a hotel toilet? (Just when you think you've seen it all at the movies ... ) This vivid image kicks off an intricate plot about which I'll reveal as little as possible, mixing its genres as easily as its international cast blends accents. "Dirty Pretty Things" is part noirish thriller, part atmospheric drama and part black comedy; it's not for the faint of heart (a few scenes involving surgery might cause dizziness or worse), but should reward those in search of an August movie that substitutes character for car crashes.
Like he did in "Laundrette," Frears creates a community of outsiders, sharing an unfamiliar London. And the hotel walls enclose a strange new nation, a place where rules do not apply and terrible deeds take place in exchange for promises. Tautou, vulnerable and lovely, dreams of a city she's never seen: New York, where "in the winter, they put lights in the trees." The outdoor lights of London, glowing lollipop-bright in the night scenes, have a beauty of their own, but Senay can't see that far ahead; she's too busy looking over her shoulder.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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