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Dirty Pretty Things (2002)

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Illegal immigrants Okwe and Senay work at a posh London hotel and live in constant fear of deportation. One night Okwe stumbles across evidence of a bizarre murder setting off a series of events that could lead to disaster or freedom.


Stephen Frears


Steven Knight
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 17 wins & 26 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Chiwetel Ejiofor ... Okwe
Kriss Dosanjh Kriss Dosanjh ... Asian Businessman
Israel Oyelumade ... Mini Cab Driver (as Israel Aduramo)
Yemi Goodman Ajibade Yemi Goodman Ajibade ... Mini Cab Driver (as Ade-Yemi Ajibade)
Nizwar Karanj Nizwar Karanj ... Mini Cab Driver
Deobia Oparei ... Mini Cab Driver
Jeffery Kissoon ... Cab Controller
Zlatko Buric ... Ivan
Audrey Tautou ... Senay
Sophie Okonedo ... Juliette
Sergi López ... Sneaky (as Sergi Lopez)
Benedict Wong ... Guo Yi
Kenan Hudaverdi Kenan Hudaverdi ... Cafe Owner
Damon Younger ... Punter
Paul Bhattacharjee ... Mohammed


Okwe is an illegal Nigerian immigrant leading a hard life and struggling to survive in London's underground. He works as a hotel receptionist in the night time and as he has a doctor degree he practices some medicine, during the day, in a very odd way. Besides that he must constantly escape from Immigration officers. One day Okwe discovers by chance an illegal scheme of surgeries is being lead by Juan, his boss in the hotel. Juan quickly comes up with a tempting proposal: if Okwe accepts to perform the illegal surgeries he makes a lot of money and gets legalized situation in the U.K. Can Okwe keep his moral values intact? Written by Weslley Gonçalves

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Every dream has its price. See more »


Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexual content, disturbing images and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Damien O'Donnell was originally attached to direct, but he decided to pass after problems with Harvey Weinstein. He directed Heartlands (2002) instead. See more »


When Okwe and Senay are drinking wine, Senay lifts a full glass. In the next shot, the glass is 3/4 full. See more »


[first lines]
Okwe: Do you want a car? Ten pounds, Theatreland. Car? London? You want a taxi? Buckingham Palace.
See more »


Featured in WatchMojo: Top 10 Inspiring Immigration Movies (2017) See more »


Glass, Concrete & Stone
Written by David Byrne
Performed by David Byrne
Courtesy of Nonesuch Records
By Arrangement with Warner Strategic Marketing
See more »

User Reviews

`Dirty Pretty Things' is an example of excellent filmmaking art without artifice.
18 August 2003 | by jdesandoSee all my reviews

`Dirty Pretty Things' is a thriller interrupted by a love story. The immigrant Brit working class is sometimes depicted by this film's director Stephen Frears (`My Beautiful Laundrette'); the native Brits are often championed by Mike Leigh (`Secrets and Lies'). In both cases, the kitchen sink realism does not fail to wake up middle-class Anglophiles like me.

Nigerian doctor Okwe hides in London behind 2 jobs as cabbie and night porter. He lives with, but does not sleep with, Turkish chambermaid Senay (played by `Amelie's' Audrey Tautou). Though they both hide from immigration officials, they cannot hide from their love. Okwe remains loyal to his Nigerian wife and daughter, and Senay has enough surviving to do to keep herself from Okwe.

After he finds a human heart in a hotel room, his own heart is changed forever. He becomes aware of low-life trafficking in organs and aware that as a doctor he could relieve many pains by helping the transplant operations. When the bloody business hits home, Frears lets us suffer with Okwe while he decides if his conventional morality can adjust to the underworld's impossible demands. The decision is not easy because his boss, Sneaky (the talented Sergi Lopez from `With a Friend like Harry'), regales him with the sophistry that crime like this is good for everyone involved (for instance, a doctor performing an operation rather than letting a hack do damage).

My worldly-wise companion and I debated Okwe's dilemma without a firm conclusion about the ethics of this end justifying the means. Frears caught us in the middle-class complacency of professionals who easily trip to London not even thinking about the workers who will attend to us--those shadow people we will never see, the disenfranchised a heartbeat away from jail or deportation. As for their love lives, who has time?

The screenwriter, Steven Knight, created the original Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? `Dirty' is leagues away from that fantasy game show, but then again the immigrants of this film are just as much moved by the slim chance of finding a home somewhere in the world.

It's the love story between Okwe and Senay that entrances me. I can't remember when I was so pleased by seeing the power of mutual respect turning into love and impossibility as I have been here. Of course, the consummate acting is a big help (You'll completely forget airhead Amelie when you see Tautou out of Paris and in the streets of London).

`Dirty Pretty Things' is an example of excellent filmmaking art without artifice.

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English | Somali | Spanish | French

Release Date:

5 September 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dirty Pretty Things See more »


Box Office


$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$100,512, 20 July 2003

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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