Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. United Kingdom, 2002. BBC Films, Celador Films, Jonescompany Productions. Screenplay by Steven Knight. Cinematography by Chris Menges. Produced by Robert Jones, Tracey Seaward. Music by Nathan Larson. Production Design by Hugo Luczyc-Wyshowski. Costume Design by Odile Dicks-Mireaux. Film Editing by Mick Audsley. Academy Awards 2003. National Board of Review Awards 2003. Toronto International Film Festival 2003.
Chiwetel Ejiofor is excellent as a Nigerian doctor working as a bellhop and taxi driver in London who, while working his hotel job, cleans up a bathroom and finds a dead human heart jammed in the suite’s toilet. Further investigation leads him to the discovery of an underground organ-trading business, one in which illegal immigrants are giving their kidneys to the hotel’s ruthless manager (Sergi López) in return for falsified government documents. Ejiofor tries to stay out of the mess altogether, but when the Turkish chambermaid (a beautifully vulnerable Audrey Tautou) for whom he cares deeply gets involved, he must act quickly or face dire consequences to both of them. Stephen Frears’s direction is at its best in this gritty drama, one which plays like a thriller but is actually a serious, dramatic examination of the harsh conditions that visible minorities suffer in speedy, swinging London. The photography is terrific and the film’s last third is satisfying and uplifting without being manipulatively pat-happy or forced.