“Dirty Pretty Things” (2002)

Tonight it was Stephen Frears’ Dirty Pretty Things, a drama about illegal immigrants in London getting caught up in the wheels of the human organ trade. It opens with a Nigerian hotel clerk—the British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, who ought to be a star—unplugging one of the rooms’ toilets, and finding it stuffed by a human heart. (It’s the image art has been searching for since the start of the 20th Century.) That sounds grim but the movie actually plays on the level of Neil Jordan’s Mona Lisa: serious, but with a fairy-tale touch to it. Despite the downbeat milieu and the self-conscious way with which it gives voice to the powerless, it’s endearing, even invigorating, by the end.

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