DIRTY PRETTY THINGS is a multi-layered story about the stark, and often invisible lives of illegal immigrants in a free society. The story exposes the degree of vulnerability, helplessness, and victimization immigrants sometimes suffer. Acknowledging their illegal status, the movie subtly praises them for enduring hardships and taking great risks to live in a free country. As a result, there are many themes of moral relativism, spiritual values and influences from various cultures, and rationalizations by the characters for their criminal status and behavior. DIRTY PRETTY THINGS also addresses the disenchantment immigrants experience once they realize that living in a free society does not free them from being abused or victimized. In fact, their status makes them the weakest and most vulnerable to crimes and coercion.
The plot of DIRTY PRETTY THINGS centers on Okwe, a Nigerian doctor forced to flee his own country for mysterious reasons. He struggles to work several menial jobs while doing his best to help other immigrants who are victims of their own actions and an abusive system. While working the night shift at a London hotel, Okwe uncovers a ruthless black market operation, which traffics in human organs. He learns that immigrants are willingly undergoing donor surgery in dirty hotel rooms in exchange for phony but convincing citizenship documents. Legal residence status is such a priceless incentive, immigrants will risk infection or even death to secure it for themselves or family members. Okwe, being a man of conscience and conviction, turns down money offered to buy his silence, but knows that contacting the police will result in his own deportation (and likely death).
Complicating matters greatly, Okwe’s friend Senay (a Turkish immigrant who values her virginity and Muslim faith) becomes emotionally involved with Okwe’s compassion and later embroiled in the black market herself. Okwe, along with an odd assortment of other immigrants, must work to save Senay from possible death at the hands of illegal surgeons.
DIRTY PRETTY THINGS is, as its title implies, a character study examining lovable and dirty people who make difficult choices which further sully their own inner beauty. It is an absorbing story with likable characters facing real-life dilemmas. By the third act, Okwe is placed in a terrible predicament in which he must make the best of a bad situation. The situational ethics are worthy of much discussion following the movie.
Unfortunately, DIRTY PRETTY THINGS is seriously marred by moral relativism, which attempts to argue that the ends justify the means. Also, the characters begin to lose spiritual faith and become their own saviors for their problems. While it is a clever cinematic twist which resolves the dilemma, and though there is a wonderfully understated romantic relationship between Okwe and Senay, the movie fails morally on many fronts. Okwe succeeds in one small area but fails to stop or slow the black market trade. Also, though viewers learn more about his personal motivations in the closing scenes, he is still a man who used corrupt means to personally benefit from a corrupt system.
The plight of illegal immigrants presented in DIRTY PRETTY THINGS is a deeply moving story, which should genuinely motivate Christians to reach out to these needy and downtrodden people. The story constantly reminds us that they are invisible, often seen as non-existent or of little value. Christ died for these people, and Christians should be prompted to love them into His kingdom. Acts of kindness and compassion will not be wasted on such needy people. Remember, the King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for Me.”
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Bob and Harvey Weinstein
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(HH, Pa, B, Ab, FR, LLL, VVV, S, A, DD, MM) Humanist worldview with strong moral relativism themes even though movie defends truth telling and helping others in need, no matter the cost, and man described as an "angel" and virtuous, but same man lies and steals medicines to help others, and commits other crimes to secure phony passports, with immigrants shown living, working and hiding due to illegal status, as well as false religion with Jesus's name used in vain, followed by Muslin woman correcting, "Mohammad" and Muslim man shows sincere appreciation by saying "God is great"; at least 25 obscenities (with 14 "f" words) and 4 profanities; graphic and bloody scenes include human heart found blocking toilet, man in pain with gaping wound, surgical incisions with much blood, man removes kidney in operation, fight scenes, and implication that woman bites man while being forced to perform oral sex; one brief implied sex scene with prostitute (couple clothed), implied oral sex, use of "morning after" pill, followed by friend saying "See, it never happened," but comment rebuked in emotional scene, prostitute talks briefly of clients and work, implied rape (couple clothed), implied forced oral sex scenes (with nothing shown), and doctor helps men infected with sexually-transmitted disease; some cleavage shown, brief scene of woman in underwear, but no nudity; alcohol use; smoking and illegal drug references; and, stealing, lying and illegal immigration.