dirty pretty things

February 17, 2012

Dirty Pretty Things has a lot of similarities to Journey of Hope, but it also reaches us in a different way, and we have more hope at the end.  How, exactly, did the film speak to you?  Were you more involved in it or less?  Did you care more about the characters?  What did you respond to and where did it take you?



  1. My initial reaction to this movie was quite different from that of Journey of Hope. I felt happy to see that Senay was on her way to her dream: living in New York City, and that Okwe was on his way home to be with his daughter. This movie was also different from Journey of Hope because both main characters were refugees of another county and were living in London illegally. Both were working in the hotel just to survive. They both wanted to live somewhere else, so their journeys were not complete once they started their lives in London.

    The plot of this movie was much different, I feel, from Journey of Hope because I could not tell what was going to exactly happen until about ten minutes until the movie ended. In Journey, the audience knew the general path the movie was going to take.

    The film spoke to me with the one line that Okwe said, “We are the people you do not see. We are the ones who drive your cabs. We clean your rooms. And suck your cocks.” It was a perfect one liner that ended the film with the audience totally on his and the other service workers’ sides. I’m not sure if I could say I cared more about these characters, but I can say that they were slightly more relatable because of the setting, clothing, etc. being more similar to American culture.

    Focusing on the mise-en-scene for this movie proved to be successful because Pretty Little Things had many props, costumes, lighting, and setting changes. Some of the key props I picked out were the different forms of time clocks all of the service workers used, the many different costumes worn by Okwe, and the general money use.

    • I really liked this movie and I did feel like it was a lot different from Journey Of Hope. In the beginning however I thought that i was going to be much of the same concept but as the movie progressed I saw that it was going to be different because these immigrants were already in another land even though they were still not happy and wanted to go somewhere else.

      I think the film did a great job in showing the everyday life of these people who are struggling to make it and how life is made very difficult for an immigrant. The costumes struck me as very important because every role that Okwe played in his life was identified by his many different uniforms.

      I felt like Okwe was very different from Haydar in Journey because while Haydar was a very unsure and wishy washy individual, Okwe held firm to his character. I thought for sure that he was going to cave into the pressure and start doing the illegal organ operations but he stuck to his guns and ended up turning the surgery around on his sleezy boss. I was totally surprised when that twist happened. I was not expecting that at all but it was a great turn to the story!

      Also I thought the way that the love story developed between Okwe and senay was refreshing. They were just friends at first trying to help each other live through their difficult situations but later it turned into something deeper which I also felt was unexpected. It was refreshing because you would rarely see the two matched in a romance, a turkish muslim woman and an African doctor. This movie did such a good job at keeping the audience engaged and the film was so unpredictable.Also the ending left the watcher with some amount of satisfaction as opposed to the hopelessness you are left with in Journey of Hope.

  2. during the movie i was reminded a lot of Fight Club. There were a lot of references to to the difference between the government and those who actually keep the country running. Also i was more into the movie because 1. it was in English therefore easier to follow and also i felt it had a more intricate plot line. There seemed to be less characters but the movie did a good job of developing their roles more. This in turn caused me to feel more empathetic toward the individuals situations because we understood more of the background they were coming from. The thing i responded to the most was the use of lighting in the film. Every time something medical or physical related was going on the filmographer used fluorescent light where as if it was something sexual or personal in nature a soft light was used. Finally, i liked the last image where we see the sun rising behind the East gate of the airport and it seems that the characters have finally “made it through the night” or there situation. All in all a great movie that had many underlying themes for us to reflect on.

  3. I definitely felt more involved in this film than Journey of Hope (probably because they spoke a language I can understand and live in an industrialized nation), because you can feel more for these characters, almost innocent individuals struggling to get by and stay positive in a world that ignores their situation (or worse seeks to destroy it) and won’t accept them. I thought the plot was thicker and stronger, and the characters more developed. They had clear motivation. It wasn’t structured as a ‘here to there and all between’ story like Journey of Hope, rather people attempting to get themselves ‘unstuck’. Almost all of the scenes took place in close quarters, tight backrooms, cramped apartments, hotel lobbies and hotel rooms. We rarely ever see the sky or what the clouds are doing, until the very end, instead we’re surrounded by skyscrapers, taken through dense streets of traffic or crowded sidewalks. An unnatural and subtly frightening setting. The land without god. It felt like a horror film, not in the conventional sense obviously, but in a genuine and more disturbing way. How the human heart floats up from the toilet, a surreal and bizarre symbol of the value placed on human life. This is a place where you have to sell yourself, literally, if you want to make it. Not just play by their rules and sell your time/life working multiple jobs, that is not enough. You must cut pieces out of yourself and sell them. The scene where Okwe is called up to a room in the hotel, the door opens behind him and a light falls on the back of his head and he turns into it. This scene was extremely important for me, it came across as absolutely terrifying. When the manager tempts him again and the hero with high morals almost breaks. When you see the woman on the bed, prepared to go under the knife in exchange for money, the idea that you cannot make it on your own, no rugged individualism here, no care for humans from humans, you have no value, you’re just meat.

  4. Regarding a sense of urgency, I feel that there was something lost/something gained between the films “Dirty Pretty Things” and “Journey of Hope”. While the key characters in “Journey of Hope” ended up fighting for their very survival, the struggles shown in “Dirty Pretty Things” seemed more engaging because of a dominantly Western setting and the shades of grey in which the characters were forced to operate.

    That being said, the film spoke to me for two different reasons: 1) The sense of duty the characters felt towards one another. 2) The severity of removing Juan’s kidney was portrayed as a just triumph rather than a frightening revenge scheme.

    Senay knew what was at stake when she let Okwe crash on her couch in the morning. Being an asylum seeker, Senay was unable to sublet her living space. The authorities on immigration caught on though, regardless of their sublety. I feel that people who aren’t in such dire circumstances would hesitate to extend kindness to those whose situations do not mirror their own.

    The filmmakers did an excellent of job of choreographing the events surrounding the kidney heist. The idea of stealing organs is not to be taken lightly, and the characters understood that. However, I felt that the audience was against Juan at that point and wanted his toxic character out of the picture. Senay and Okwe knew that there would be no going back once they double-cross Juan, so they had their escape route plotted before committing to the procedure. It makes sense that they would get off scot-free, though, because Juan couldn’t go to any authorities without implicating himself in the process.

    • I agree with your statement about Juan’s kidney removal being seen as a triumph rather than what it probably should be…a dirty revenge scheme! For some reason, I think this film spoke to me because I have been “blinded” from seeing just what goes on in the world of illegal immigrants trying to survive. Throughout this film, I kept thinking to myself, “Wow, they’re going to sell their body parts for visas/money…is this really happening?”

  5. I could see a lot of reasons we would immediately compare this to Journey of Hope, given the relative themes of both. However, I feel as though these are entirely different experiences On the topic of ‘hope’, Journey of Hope certainly seemed to start optimistic, but by the ending freeze frame you could almost hear a pin drop in the room. In contrast, Dirty Pretty Things ended on a complete opposite note, in spite of the seemingly hopeless situation the characters were already in and the terrible things and blackmail they were faced with.

    The protagonists were decidedly more likable and engaging than in the previous film. They’ve already established themselves in their setting, though like in the other film the main characters are sought out by an immigration patrol. Another key difference is motivation – these characters are simply deeper and more rich than the ones in Journey of Hope. They each have their own background and goals, whereas Journey of Hope was driven by Haydar’s perspective and obsession, so relatively little was revealed in terms of depth.

    I find it interesting that someone mentioned that the removal of the boss’ kidney was seen as a moment of triumph rather than a horrific act of vengeance. That intrigues me and goes to show that the filmmakers were successful in making the audience investing in their main characters. We wanted to see the heroes of the story make it to the end okay; we saw how despicable of a person the boss was, and I believe the general reaction to his comeuppance was refreshing. We clearly sympathized with our protagonists, and the movie was a more positive experience for it.

  6. I really liked this film. I think that while the films are similar in the fact that they are about refugees/illegal immigrants, they approach the matter in different ways. “Journey of Hope” does start out hopeful, but by the end of the film it seems as if all is lost. “Dirty Pretty Things,” on the other hand seems to be about lost hope that is regained.

    I felt that “Dirty Pretty Things” was more engaging. I liked the characters more, and I think there was better development of the main characters. The characters have their own goals, rather than one shared goal–yet they really seem to feel a sense of duty towards each other, as Theo said. I did feel that the characters within this film were more likable.

    I agree about how the removal of the “villain’s” kidney kind of seems like a moment of triumph. Honestly, I couldn’t help silently cheering a little bit for Okwe and Senay as they tricked Juan and escaped, able to make their way to the lives they could only dream of before.

    • I absolutely agree that Dirty Pretty Things was more engaging for at least this kind of audience than Journey of Hope. For me perhaps it was simply the fact that it was in English. I’m a fan of foreign films, but it definitely makes everything much more understandable and adds a depth of tone quality as well as we are focused on the voices as well as the words.

      Journey of Hope had a steady decline where things just got worse and worse for the family. Although Dirty Pretty Things also had that sort of aspect, I came away with a much more… complete feeling.

      Even though the ending was bittersweet, it wrapped everything up in a respectable way, something that I felt Journey of Hope lacked. Although the movies are both diaspora films, they are truly more different than I expected them to be.

  7. I enjoyed this film quite a bit more than “Journey of Hope.” It was much easier to follow since it was in English and I could focus mainly on the story instead of reading the entire movie. “Dirty Pretty Things” was far more engaging to me because I could sympathize more with the characters and felt more of a connection with them.

    The characters all seemed like a bunch of friends who would go out of their way to help each other even though it was a very serious situation. It also ended on a happier note than “Journey of Hope” which I was thankful for. It was refreshing to see the bad guy get overthrown and the underdogs come back to turn the tables on him at the end of the movie rather than seeing a little boy who had so much hope die in front of me.

  8. This movie was very different for me than Journey of Hope because I feel as though there was more of a theatrical plot in Dirty Pretty Things. The characters seeked revenge and brought justice to the plot and we got a lot more closure in this movie as well. I felt as though this film had a lot more characteristics that we recognize such as suspense, love, a plot, good guy vs bad guy, etc whereas Journey of Hope didn’t have these things. I fell in love with these characters however I fell in love with the young boy in the previous movie a lot more. I just really liked the diversity of all the types of characters in this movie. It was really a melting pot of all different cultures and backgrounds.

  9. This film, as others have mentioned, left me with at least an ounce of hope compared to the conclusions in Journey of Hope. I really focused on the doorman in the film as he acted as some sort of “ferryman” as he let the issues of reality (the outside world) filter through the doors and meet the issues with the hotel. I felt like the characters who plotted against Juan were also rather interesting in that only two of them really escaped from the hotel itself (and all the problems lingering there). The doorman, prostitute, and the man who worked in the hospital were paid to do their jobs, but they were mainly there to help pull the kidney switcheroo on Juan so that the other two could escape to the airport.

  10. I think that I was more attached to the characters in Journey of Hope than I was in Dirty Pretty Things. The characters in the first movie had more of an impact on me. I think this is because I found the characters to be more vulnerable. Since the first film had a child involved, it felt like there was more at risk. The elements involved in the first film were also much harsher than in Dirty Pretty Things. This movie was focused in a city and the illegal immigrants all had a place to live and jobs that gave them sufficient money. The first film had the family give up everything and went into the unknown hoping it would be better. I was still involved with this film but it seemed like the characters were able to handle their problems better, or at least had more options in how to go about things. I did like that the characters had better relationships with each other so it allowed the story to progress further than just the main characters. I think this was an interesting new way to look at how illegal immigration is viewed, especially since it took place in a large city.

  11. I think for this movie I was more prepared for the harshness because of the tragic ending of the last one. With that said, I still felt great shock in how naive I am about the world. I didn’t even think about things like organ trading happening in the black market it seems like something out of a horror movie. I felt constantly on edge throughout this movie mostly because the images were disturbing. The sharp colors made everything seem disorienting like the yellows which didn’t allow you to distinguish between night and day and the oranges and red in various places. The red that was used always suggested violence or death because in the morge the doctor was sloshing off the blood without much emotion which I think is a point in a lot of these characters the callousness of their lifestyle is very evident.
    I really grew attached to these characters more than the last movie because I lived day to day with them and the other villians outnumbered the two protagonist. I wanted the doctor to be able to return home and I wanted the girl to get vengence for having her dreams crushed. This ending to me was just as sad because the two people really mattered to eachother and they had to go seperate way both with hopes and dreams that could never come true and fantasies of a better place that did not excist.
    by Delaney McDermott

    • I agree with you here, Delaney. I was more prepared for this film because of the tragedy that happened in Journey of Hope, however I wasn’t prepared for the organ trading. I’m realizing how sheltered and naive I really am. I definitely was able to feel more attached to these people because I could relate to them more. They had already reached London, which wasn’t ideal, but better than being captured. Also, the element of suspense drew me in. In Journey of Hope, I kept fearing the awful trek over the Swiss Alps. Journeys like that seem exhausting to me, even just watching. With Dirty Pretty Things, I needed to reach the end to see what really happened. Also, I think because of the way Okwe and Senya got revenge against the hotel owner, I was more uplifted. I find it easier to relate to characters when there isn’t an incredible amount of sadness. I suppose that’s what makes diaspora tough.

  12. I liked that the evil forces working againt the characters had a distinct face. The characters were mostly able avoid immediate danger. The organ removal switch-up was their act of revenge upon Juan. Not only did he violate Senya and put Okwe in a moral comprimising situation, he was also an evil force for harming many other people, not to mention killing and disposing of the bodies as well.
    There was a much greater sense of community and help in this film. The characters had safe places to meet (the apartment, coffee shop, morgue) as well as friends that would keep them safe (mortician, door man). The characters themselves were a bit more relatable as well. The internal struggles of family over love are felt by both characters.

  13. I thought that Dirty, Pretty Things was a little more on the cheerful side compared to Journey of Hope. Maybe not by much, because Dirty, Pretty Things still dealt with a lot of heavy and controversial topics that were similar to the ones in Journey of Hope (illegal immigrants, for example), but Dirty, Pretty Things did have humorous moments, like when Okwe teased Senay about eating pork (which is prohibited in her culture).
    I also felt like the characters in Dirty, Pretty Things were more relate-able as well. They have the jobs that no one wants, merely trying to get by, living their daily lives and doing whatever they can to make ends meet.
    It seemed that despite their hardships, each character had their own way of living their life and dealing with the difficulties they were thrown.
    I also liked that even though the main characters were all from different areas, they banded together to help each other, specifically to help Okwe and Senay get where they needed to go.
    I thought Okwe’s plan was brilliant, and I was completely surprised when it turned out that he had slipped anesthesia into Sneak’s drink and took HIS kidney, rather than operating on Senay.
    I liked this movie much better than Journey of Hope, simply because it had a happier ending. Though Senay and Okwe weren’t able to be together, they were both on their way to beginning new, and hopefully better lives.

  14. I noticed was that the main characters in this film were a lot less ignorant and more willing to stand up for themselves then those in Journey of Hope. Okwe didn’t let anyone walk over him, if he knew something was wrong he’d stand up for that belief. For example, throughout the film he didn’t accept any bribes from Juan or anyone for that matter. He saved Senay from certain death, tricked Juan, and was able to start a new life for himself, along for Senay. Haydar did almost the exact opposite of that, leading his family into certain death, causing the death of their son, consistently getting forced and tricked into doing something, while in the end he was sitting in a jail cell, while we are left guessing about his future. I found the metaphor of hell being the hotel to be quite fascinating as well.

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