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Customer Review

on August 20, 2003
I got dragged to this movie by a friend of mine - I hadn't heard of it and was only partially compelled by the double-thumbs-up it got. Well, I bought my friend dinner afterwards as thanks, it was so good!
I love all kinds of movies, but after a summer of blockbusters with little or no characterization or originality I was ready for an intelligent film. The timing of this film - the end of summer - couldn't have been better and I hope it gets the audience it deserves.
First of all, although critics describe this as a thriller, that term really does this film a disservice. There aren't any of the typical thriller genre cliches such as the evil serial killer, girl with a fatal crush, intense soundtrack, etc. What this movie does is thoroughly and with artistic simplicity portray the plight of people seeking political asylum, a new life, in London, and trying to survive without citizenship status. They take the jobs no one else wants, network for health care from doctors outside the system and cadge temporary places to live out of empty offices.
The actors are all supurb. Audrey Tautou is unrecognizable as the prankster from "Amelie" and Chiwetel Ejiofor exudes integrity combined with puppy-dog eyes.
Also very fun are their friends, a hooker and a mortician with great senses of humor. ("Did you know she's in love with you? I've only known her for 10 minutes and even I know it. But then you know what they say - good at chess, bad at life. I stink at chess.")
This is a subculture that is rarely portrayed, and never so honestly, nakedly. The title suits because the story flips from the pragmatic baring of flesh to check for syphilis; the beautiful Tautou forced to submit to her boss; to a human heart clogging a toilet. But you can't look away.
Stephen Frears is a refreshing director who proves you don't need acrobatic cameras and MTV editing to tell a great, engrossing story. He states things without overstating or understating.
If you're not into think pieces you probably won't enjoy this film. It can probably be enjoyed just as well on a small screen if you wish to wait for video. I found it definitely worth the price of a matinee admission, and don't consider it a full-price, Saturday night date movie at all. No, this is one to see with your smarter friends and analyze afterwards over coffee and pie. Or go see it alone.
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