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
Having opened the London Film Festival, this film duly goes on public release and it has to be said it's a slight disappointment. It's worthy and weighty in terms of subject matter, but as a film it lacks invention.
Concentrating on the seedy London underworld of illegal immigrants and late night workers, the film tells the story of Night Hotel manager Okwe. Showing how he unsuccessfully juggles working all day and night the film begins as a drama, but soon changes gears. A slow burning relationship with maid Senay, a Turkish immigrant, combines with a gruesome discovery of a human heart in the lavatory. Keeping the matter quiet, Okwe tries to uncover the truth himself, whilst avoiding dogged immigration officers. Being a doctor in his previous life, Okwe treats people of back street procedures, and soon realises that a grisly trade in human organs is going on in his own hotel. Will he and Senay be able to escape?
The films central premise is what lets it down. To imply that life for immigrants is hard is nothing new, but to suggest that going to America or back home is the ideal solution is ridiculous. The performances are more than adequate, with Tautou convincing as the spirited yet innocent Senay. Newcomer Ejifor is also convincing in the central role, showing Okwe's vulnerable and sensitive characters. They are surrounded however by various overacting characters, which undermine the film.
A worthy subject matter, and some nice twists are undone by unimaginative directing from the experienced Stephen Frear's, whose previous films such as 'My Beautiful laundrette' promised more than the director has been able to deliver.
Worth watching for the captivating Tautou and promising Ejiofor, but might be worth waiting for a video release, especially with all the blockbusters flying about at this time of year.
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