Dirty Pretty Things is a 2002 film directed by Stephen Frears and written by Steven Knight, a drama about two illegal immigrants in London. It was produced by the Celador Films production company.
The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and won a British Independent Film Award for "Best Independent British Film" in 2003.
Okwe (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a Nigerian man who drives a cab in London during the day and works at the front desk of a hotel at night — chewing khat (a stimulant) to keep awake. Okwe was formerly a doctor in Nigeria. In London he is pressed into giving medical treatment to other poor immigrants — including fellow cab drivers with venereal diseases. Okwe's friend Guo Yi (Benedict Wong), an employee at a hospital mortuary, provides him with antibiotics under the table.
A prostitute known as Juliette (Sophie Okonedo) tells Okwe to check a room in which she was staying and he finds the toilet overflowing. While fishing out the blockage, he finds a human heart. The manager of the hotel, Juan (Sergi López), runs an illegal operation at the hotel where immigrants swap kidneys for forged passports. After learning of Okwe's past as a doctor, Juan pressures him to join his operation as a surgeon, but Okwe refuses.
Okwe shares an apartment with Senay (Audrey Tautou). Senay is a Turkish woman who works as a maid in the same hotel. The two immigrants form a friendship, but their situation becomes complicated when immigration police begin to chase her and suspect that she is working against the terms of her status. Okwe moves out of Senay's flat and Guo Yi illicitly lets Okwe have some space in the hospital mortuary for accommodation. Senay quits her job at the hotel and takes a job in a clothing sweatshop. However, after two days at her new job she has to hide from immigration police, who visit the sweatshop. Using this as blackmail, the sweatshop owner solicits sexual favours from her. In the second or third instance however, she bites his penis while administering oral sex and flees. She leaves her apartment and runs to Okwe, who hides her in the mortuary.
In desperation, Senay then turns to Juan and agrees to exchange a kidney for a passport. As a "deal maker", Juan takes her virginity as well, and later Juliette provides her with the morning-after pill. After learning of Senay's plan, Okwe tells Juan that he will perform the operation to ensure her safety, but only if Juan provides them both with passports. However, Okwe and Senay drugged Juan instead, surgically removed his kidney and sold it to Juan's contact.
The film ends with Senay and Okwe at Stanstead Airport, where he must return to his young daughter, Valerie, in Nigeria (where he had been wrongly accused of his wife's murder) while Senay follows her dream to start a new life in New York City. Before they part, however, she gives him her cousin's address in New York. In the closing scene, they mouth "I love you" to each other. Senay boards the plane to New York to begin life anew and Okwe calls Valerie to tell her that he is finally coming home.
Complete credited cast:
Audrey Tautou ... Senay Gelik
Chiwetel Ejiofor ... Okwe
Sergi López ... Sneaky / Juan
Sophie Okonedo ... Juliette
Benedict Wong ... Guo Yi
Kenan Hudaverdi ... Cafe Owner
Damon Younger ... Punter
Paul Bhattacharjee ... Mohammed
Darrell D'Silva ... Immigration Officer
Sotigui Kouyaté ... Shinti
Abi Gouhad ... Shinti's Son
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Israel Aduramo ... Mini Cab Driver
Yemi Ajibade ... Mini Cab Driver (as Ade-Yemi Ajibade)
Barber Ali ... Sweatshop Foreman
Josef Altin ... Sweatshop Boy (as Yusuf Altin)
Directed by Stephen Frears
Produced by Robert Jones
Written by Steven Knight