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Director Stephen Frears returns to the grittier themes of his earlier films for the urban thriller Dirty Pretty Things. Residing in London, the medically trained Okwe (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a Nigerian immigrant working as a taxi driver and a hotel concierge, but he still lives on the edge of poverty. He shares a room with Senay (Amélie's Audrey Tautou making her English-language debut), a Turkish refugee who works as a maid at the hotel. As illegal immigrants, Okwe and Senay live in fear of being deported. One night, working at the front desk, Okwe receives a call from prostitute Juliette (Sophie Okonedo) to check a broken toilet, where he makes a horrifying discovery. He reports it to the manager Sneaky (Sergi Lopez), who blackmails Okwe into staying quiet about it. Okwe soon discovers the presence of a shady business operation that sends him into the seedy London underworld. Senay becomes lured in with hopes of being able to fund her escape to America.

Store Comments

Director Stephen Frears' quiet thriller arrives on DVD courtesy of Miramax Home Entertainment. Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, the image is near flawless, sporting even skin tones and well-balanced colors. Though the Dolby Digital 5.1 sound scheme offers little in the way of flashy directional effects, it offers an even mix of music and dialogue and a lush auditory backdrop that gives the viewer a great sense of life on the run in London. Substantial extras are limited to a director's commentary track and a short making-of featurette, with director Frears amusingly admitting on the commentary that this is the first time he has actually seen Dirty Pretty Things in its entirety. For the most part, Frears utilizes the commentary track as a means to praise the performances of his actors (he seems especially impressed with Audrey Tautou -- who had yet to taste stardom due to the breakout success of Amélie at the time this film was shooting), though occasional comments regarding the impact of timing on the emotions of the audience offer fascinating insight into Frears' unique style of directing. A short making-of segment touches on the basic themes and plot points of the film through interviews with the cast and crew without getting too in-depth, and a handful of "Sneak Peeks" showcase some other titles from Miramax Home Entertainment.

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WD33187 Dirty Pretty Things DVD (2004/Audrey Tautou/Stephen Frears) $14.99