Generally favorable reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 35
  2. Negative: 0 out of 35
  1. A fascinating sight to behold.
  2. Jammed with banner-ready political rhetoric, and the relentlessness of the lectures is wearying. The plot, on the other hand, is a standard contraption built on enduring urban anxieties and involving a nasty hotel-room trade.
  3. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    The whole movie is like that: gleaming, but with a whiff of the charnel house. Dirty Pretty Things doesn't quite cut to the bone, but it gets as far as a couple of vital organs.
  4. 40
    Essentially a TV movie souped up by the divinely skittish cinematography of Chris Menges, the film suffers from a screenplay full of labored attempts at wit by Steven Knight, and characters who barely make it off the page alive.
  5. All told, the best ensemble cast I've seen this year.
  6. 100
    A crackerjack thriller, laced with labyrinthine mysteries, moral quandaries and unspeakable evil.
  7. 88
    The strength of the thriller genre is that it provides stories with built-in energy and structure. The weakness is that thrillers often seem to follow foreseeable formulas. Frears and his writer, Steve Knight, use the power of the thriller and avoid the weaknesses in giving us, really, two movies for the price of one.
  8. It's an exciting but brainy, cross-cultural thriller about modern London and life in a contemporary urban pressure cooker, and it depends more on plot, character and atmosphere than it does on chases and gunfire.
  9. 88
    It's a dark and revealing movie, and, while the ending may not be upbeat enough for those expecting mainstream fare, it offers a measure of hope and a catharsis.
  10. 75
    Fueled by gripping suspense, dark humor and outraged humanity, the film is a modern horror story that means to shake you, and does.
  11. 75
    Part urban thriller, part unorthodox love story, this well-acted portrayal of the shadowy realm occupied by London's illegal immigrants is buoyed by stinging social commentary and a surprising twist of intelligent humor.
  12. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    This is the meatiest role Tautou has had post-''Amelie'' and she drops the zombie-pixie act for once, giving us a character who's caught in a daily dance between propriety and abandon, and who can only dance faster as desperation sets in.
  13. By its third act, Okwe has found his solution and Dirty Pretty Things comes across as both clever but a little pat, another British drama about the misfits who pool their resources to defy the oppressive system, though it does not precisely leave a warm glow.
  14. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Things will not be a big concession-stand movie because the floating heart is our introduction to a cottage industry we hope won't catch on. It is dirtier than pretty, yet Frears finds beauty in the telling.
  15. Reviewed by: Don R. Lewis
    A romance wrapped in a mystery wrapped in a tale of redemption or something like that. To be honest, I'm not sure what the film really is as far as a genre goes. One thing is for sure, it's a damn fine film.
  16. 60
    Ejiofor's subtle, infinitely humane performance is the invisible glue that holds everything together and Chris Menges's darkly shimmering cinematography lends the story a gritty, coolly seductive glamour.
  17. 100
    The grandest and most vigorous movie he's (Frears) made in at least a decade. Like Okwe himself, it rises above its limitations, and it's just a little bit bigger than the landscape around it.
  18. It's best appraised as a strong ensemble piece, a darkly dreamy slab of social commentary and definitely one of the year's best films.
  19. 100
    This is a film that insinuates itself deeply into our awareness. It's that rare pulp story with something on its mind, an unnerving, socially conscious thriller with a killer sense of narrative drive.
  20. 90
    This film has a conquering spirit. The dankness is replaced by an optimistic blast of sunlight at the end, a contrast to the earlier lighting dimmed with human misery. Mr. Frears blasts away the blight, though he doesn't have to work to restore Okwe's dignity. It shines through from the start.
  21. Once again, Frears -- who has enjoyed a glorious run of diverse, good-quality movies, from "My Beautiful Laundrette" to "High Fidelity" -- has crafted a unique gem.
  22. One of the year's best films.
  23. 90
    An impressive mix of entertainment and social comment, spinning a great mystery even as it confronts an ugly world.
  24. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    Steven Knight’s smart, if overly plotted, script delivers social insights tautly wrapped in genre thrills.
  25. 70
    Frears has directed a surprisingly sturdy hybrid of thriller and social melodrama, even if the thrills turn ludicrous and the social critique grows a little pat.
  26. 70
    Slick and sober, fiercely contemporary, and rigged by a fail-safe three-act structure, Dirty Pretty Things nimbly straddles the line between realism and popcorn pop, but it knows which side its bread is buttered on.
  27. Though worth seeing, should be better than it is.
  28. Director Stephen Frears...drops down to the underclass in "DPT," examining the ways in which educated illegals fight off despair, poverty and extradition.
  29. 75
    The result is an unwieldy but still compelling look at the plight of immigrants wrapped in a thriller about black-market organ transplants.
  30. Frears story's grotesque subject offers an opportunity for a sick audience payoff that is more "Death Wish" than social commentary, and he takes it. It works -- you'll laugh! you'll gulp! -- but it's cheap.
  31. The poetic justice strains the verisimilitude of a film otherwise grounded in a tough reality, but there is a guilty satisfaction to it all.
  32. Reviewed by: David Stratton
    An intelligent and extremely well-made romantic drama that tells an intriguing story with economy and insight.
  33. Reviewed by: Collin Levey
    The thriller aspect of this work, happily, doesn't overshadow its real beauty -- its stark portrayal of the nightmare despair of aliens, hunted, on edge, prepared to risk all for a new start.
  34. 70
    We are entertained, but we see this squalid world clearly. The great cinematographer Chris Menges keeps the images cool and crisp. [15 September 2003, p.100]
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 61 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 31
  2. Negative: 3 out of 31
  1. ShivvahnaR.
    Apr 23, 2006
    Great film that tackles the issues of illegal immagiants in a system that is used and abused by the corrupt. Beautiful performances which Great film that tackles the issues of illegal immagiants in a system that is used and abused by the corrupt. Beautiful performances which could have turned Sterotypical however became three dimensional characters through the wounderful direction of Frears. A classic in the making. Full Review »
  2. FrankO.
    Jan 25, 2006
    A great movie...seen it twice, once in theatre and once on television; enjoyed it just as much 2nd time, Ejiofor and Tautou were very A great movie...seen it twice, once in theatre and once on television; enjoyed it just as much 2nd time, Ejiofor and Tautou were very good..kept my interest as to what was happening..good plot. Full Review »
  3. AlanB.
    Mar 31, 2004
    One of the ten best films of 2003. Chiwetel Ejiofor offers perhaps the best male performance of the year. A touching, sharply crafted story.